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Everything posted by Fi

  1. "The unfortunate and (probably more numerous) feckless UK residents can

    suppliment this miserable provision( for which they will usually have

    made minimal contributions), with means-tested benefits, paid  for also

    by those who have contributed most in NI and taxes.

    Grrrrrrrr.  Sweeping generalisations are not helpful.  We are in our forties, have three children under 10,  pay a large mortgage, and pay all the taxes etc that are required of us.  W At the end of all this, assuming we eat and buy the occasional stitch of clothing, we do not have any spare money to pay for private pensions.  No doubt some grumpy-pants will make comments about having three children being our choice, but answer this - in the future, whose taxes will pay for roads, schools, hospitals, and even, dare I say it, subsidising feckless crumblies?

    On this cheeful note, I intend to go and do despicable things to a turkey - it will make me feel better (I think this is known as displacement therapy...)

    Joyeux noel a tous



  2. Fi


    Has anyone used the services of Gardicanin?  We are going to the UK for a few days between Christmas and New Year and and we can't really take Bryn with us - we are staying with my elderly unwell parents and it would be just too much for them to cope with (2 adults, 3 brats and hound).  There seems to be a complete dearth of boarding kennels in this part of the world, but I have found Gardicanin on the web who offer either host families or dog-sitting at home.  The cost seems reasonable (105 euros for 5 days), and according to their website are recommended by the SPA.  It sounds perfect - maybe too good to be true.  We have only had one experience of a French boarding kennel (near Calais) and for all the owner was very kind and obviously loved dogs, Bryns' accommodation was a concrete mini stable - nothing to raise him from the ground, no nothing - he survived, but was even more clingy than usual for about a week.  I couldn't put him through that at his age (12, arthritic etc etc).

    I know I should have organised this weeks ago, but time just disappears at the moment.

    Many thanks


  3. I hope this is he right forum for this...

    I have three children (8,6 & 5) and we live in the Vosges.  My husband works away a lot and we are thinking of getting an au pair to act as an extra pair of hands with the children and some adult (ish) company for me.

    My only experience of au pair-ing was being one back in the 80's which was not the most positive experience of my life (how's that for diplomatic language?).  At the time I was paid 200 francs a week - the job (aka endurance challenge) was found via my village's twin town association.  Many red faces when I departed long before the end of the contract! 

    A friend in The Hague pays her au pair 70 euros/week pocket money - would that seem to be around the going rate?  Should my first port of call be The Lady, or can anyone recommend a good agency/website?  I am aware of the need to double and triple check references, set the ground rules from the start, and be very clear about what is expected of the au-pair and what he/she expects from us.    I would prefer an English speaker - I would be more than happpy to pay for Fench language classes if needed/wanted.

    If anyone has any experience of au pairs, and can offer any practical advice I would be eternally grateful (sorry, just been watching Toy Story!).

    Many thanks.



  4. Hi

    I am in the process of kitting out our two gites, hopefully in time for the winter season (we have wintersports nearby).  I am in a quandary about what kind of cooker to provide.  The bottled gas cookers are much cheaper (around 200 euros for a simple model) vs. 350 for a basic electric jobby.  We live on site so running out of gas wouldn't be a problem, but I do have some concerns about safety.  However, being halfway up a mountain does have many fantastic bonuses, but it does also mean that the electrical supply can be temperamental.  There is also the question of the fuse box tripping out if someone is running the cooker, washing machine, has all the heaters on, dries their hair while making a cup of tea and a piece of toast.  Incidentally this part of France does not seem to be popular with the Brits (can't think why, it's very beautiful and only a 6-7 hour drive from Calais), so I imagine the majority of our clients will be French, Belgian, Dutch, German or Luxembourgeois(? is that the right term?). Not sure if that (nationality) makes a difference.

    Another (vaguely) related question, is it normal practice to supply a fire blanket in the kitchen, and an extinguisher near the log fire?  I don't recall seeing any such items in french-owned gites we have used in the past, but it would seem sensible.  Where can you buy such things?

    Any advice gratefully received.



  5. Fi

    Additional Dog

    I had a mental picture of bedraggled humans preceded by several happy hounds proceeding through a hotel foyer.  It made me snigger - thanks! 

    I really appreciate all the thoughts/advice.  I think we will wait until after Christmas and then look at getting a youngish female 'soppy' breed from the local rescue centre.  If you can bear it, I will post pics!

    All best


  6. We are married, and we've only been here for 6 weeks!  I think an email to the accountant could be in order here ..... 

    Many thanks

  7. We have been here for a whole month, so I can't make any great pronouncements from experience,  However, my three children (8, 6 and 5) are all at the village primary (55 pupils in total!).  The two older ones are very happy, and despite the obvious language issues always come home very enthusiastic, and they even volunteer information about their day (a very novel experience!).  They get  a extra help with French language three times a week.  Before this we attended an international school in The Hague, which was a good school but rather overwhelming for them - there was no 'bounce' on the way home unlike now. My youngest is autistic and goes to school for a couple of hours in the morning, however we are now trying to get in the system for extra help for him or a place at a special school so we hope that he will be in a good routine in the New Year.  We have had plenty of help and support from the school and the education authority in this respect.  Now all we have to do is sort out social security......[8-)]

    Our experience has been pretty positive thus far.  The kids think no school on Wednesday is heaven (I don't - I have to entertain them!).  They are very friendly with the other children, bo big friendships yet, but we have to give it time.

    My adivce (for what it's worth) - talk to them before starting school and explain what to expect (positive and negative), try and visit the school with the children so they know what it looks like (and smells like), and relax - it won't be perfect from day one, but do try and stay positive for your sake and theirs.

    Good luck with everything.

  8. Does anyone have any experience of one partner working in Dubai while the rest family reside in France?

    The boy wonder has (almost) been offered a 12 month contract in Dubai - his accommodation/car hire and 4 (I think) flights home are paid for by his employer, and his salary will be tax-free.  Financially it's a no-brainer, but there are other considerations.

    Other than the obvioius concerns about being apart for such a long time, the effect on the children (8,6 & 5), the effect on our relationship, what would the implications be in terms of social security/residence etc?  As of 1.1.09 I will officially be running a gite business under the micro entreprise scheme, but is that really going to be enough?  I have asked this before, but is there a mechanism in France for paying voluntary cotisations?  I have looked on the RSI website and I think they will be the people to contact to get some clarification (or even more confusion depending on the answer!).

    If there is anyone with any experience of this kind of situation, or can offer any advice? 

    Many thanks.

  9. We have some black mould (or rather mildew?) growing round a north facing upstairs window which I think has been caused by excessive condensation.  We moved in about a month ago, but the house was empty/unheated for a good year or so before we arrived.  Our predecessor removed the vmc's from the attic so the air is not circulating (we rather think we'll have to have them reinstated - this is a big old house).  What would be the best way of  getting rid of the mould?  I seem to recall hearing bleach being recommended but that seems rather extreme.  The walls are painted with textured paint and I would prefer not to do too much damage to the decor - it is innocuous and in good condition (apart from the mould!) so it can stay for the time being - we have more urgent jobs to do in the rest of the house.

    Any hints about reducing the condensation?  I'm not convinced those crystals in  plastic bowl thingies are particularly useful, but I am willing to be corrected on that one!

    Many thanks.



  10. Fi

    Additional Dog

    "Shadow dog" would be a lab/retriever type.  My husband would like a Husky, but it doesn't mean he's getting one .... Thanks for the info, more ammunition for me! 

    And thanks to all other contributors - plenty of food for thought there.  Will let you know how we get on.

    Bonne soiree


  11. Beautiful sunshine here too, but it is very chilly [:)]

  12. Fi

    Additional Dog


    I would really appreciate some advice from any dog experts out there.

    We have an elderly (we think 11ish) Springer Spaniel.  He has the usual old age problems - creaky joints, dogdy eyesight/hearing, memory of a lettuce etc.  We are his 4th set of owners - he originally trained as a gun dog in the UK but was deeply unhappy and bullied by other dogs in the kennels.  He then found his way to a flatmate of my husband, but she wanted a lapdog, not a smelly spaniel with a liking for smelly, black, sticky mud.  He was evicted by said flatmate's landlord and went to live with her parents where he had a nice life - unfortunately they had to let him go because of health problems |(theirs not his).  He has now been our lump in the carpet for around 6 years. 

    We have now moved to the Vosges and we have a big house with a large terrain.  We are thinking of getting another dog (probably lab or retriever but any suggestions gratefully recieved) who we would like to train to become our autistic son's shadow (Alex is an escape artiste par excellence - we think a dog might help both him and us!).  How does one go about acquiring a dog in France - most previous dogs in my life have just turned up.

    Do you (dog experts out there) think that Bryn's nose would be put severly out of joint if we introduced another dog.  He is the best behaved dog I have ever had any dealings with, he is very gentle, obedient (when his hearing is working) very loving (eternally grateful is how my husband puts it) and has many social graces. However he is a complete coward with other dogs - I have to protect him .....We were hoping that some of this (not the cowardice) might rub off on "new" dog, but the last thing we want to do is upset Bryn in any way.  There was also some talk of yet another dog for the other two children to make theirs, but this was after a bottle or two ...  And Bloke has a not so secret yearning for a Husky style dog - hmmmmm.

    Apologies for the stream of consciousness, I hope it makes some sense ..... So if there any brilliant ideas out there, I 'd love to hear them.



  13. Lots of snow in the Vosges at the moment (deep enough to go over the top of Bloke's wellies) and a brisk -5.3 degrees outside.  Dog totally confused (I now know why springer spaniels are called springers) and children thrilled.  Just like Narnia according to eldest daughter.  And a lot more to come according to our neighbour who knows everything!  Have invested in deeply unsexy, but practical, snowboots.


  14. Many thanks to you both for your help.  We will  try next week.  Hopefully we will find something that his majesty will eat!

    Best wishes


  15. Hi

    Does anyone out there know of a good health food website which a reasonable range of gluten/dairy free foods?  My youngest son is autistic and follows a strict gluten and casein free diet.  We arrived in France (Vosges 88) about three weeks ago and my emergency supplies are rapidly disappearing - it would help of course if the other two would stop pinching things!  I have investigated the various super/hypermarkets (Super U, Leclerc etc) but they are very disappointing - plenty of eat yourself thin products (surely an oxymoron?) but nothing much in gf/cf apart from rice cakes and bird food cunningly disguised as breakfast cereal! 

    Another related query - are Alpro products available in France?  I did get the number of their French distributor, who told me that they were not distributed in France (pourquoi French distributor then - I sometimes think I am entering a strange parallel universe ... maybe an aperitif would help).

    Any hints/advice gratefully received.  Many thanks.

  16. [quote user="Panda"][quote user="XLeblanc"]

    . If there is any likely hood that I will be taxed in France then I will simply go back to being UK resident and fall under the UK ninety day rule it is that simple. I am not going to have anyone benfitting from me having to work in a dump if I can help it and why should I.

    As far as the health cover goes then I will simply take out private insurance for us all. We could open a B&B as our house in Brittany was operating as a B&B prior to us buying it.



    Who do you think should foot the bill for your kids going to school here, that is what paying tax here will help to cover.  I don;t understand this train of thought at all, you are saying why should you pay yet your family are here and are receiving the benefit of the french system.

    Am I missing something.


    I'm with Panda on this one.  Presumably the OP chose to work in these 'dumps' and is well rewarded for doing so.  There are only two certainties in life - death and taxes (apologies for misquoting). 

    We are about to move to France, and my husband will be working in different countries while the children and I live in France.  We are actively trying to find the best way to contribute, as we will be using schools, healthcare, roads etc etc etc.  We are not mad enough to want to give large chunks of our hard-earned cash away unnecessarily, but we do accept that we have a duty (such an old-fashioned term) to pay our way.

    We found talking to an accountant (French) helpful!

    Back to the packing ...


  17. Hi

    My apologies if this has already been covered in previous posts - I did some ferreting around but couldn't find an answer, so please don't get too cross with me!

    We currently live in the Netherlands and are uprooting to France at the end of October (we consist of me, husband and 3 children).  My husband will continue to work for his Dutch employer in the short-term, then he will be working as a freelance IT contractor, initially in Switzerland.  I will be staying in the family home in France with the kids, while he long distance commutes. 

    We will have a couple of gites within our property which we will run under the auspices of a micro-enterprise (I am seeing the accountant next week to do all the paperwork before we complete the purchase of our house).  My question is this, will the micro-entreprise be enough for me and the children (one of whom is autistic) to benefit from the French social security system?  If not, and we are dependent on my husband's income to qualify, is there any mechanisim in place for making voluntary social security contributions to get into the system (like paying a NI stamp in the UK)?  His income is taxed in the Netherlands, and we pay for private health insurance (there is no state-run health insurance here).  Once he is freelance, it is likely he will be paid and taxed in Switzerland (because of swiss tax rules).  This is all terribly complicated!

    If anyone has any experience or knowledge of this, I would really appreciate any help.

    Back to packing boxes!   


  18. Thanks for that.  I will contact them forthwith!



  19. Many thanks for the advice.  Unfortunately the frenchtaxcafe.co.uk website is 'under devevlopment (sic)' and they say contact their listed numbers, but I couldn't find any listed!  I know this is a bit of a cheek, but if you have any 'old-fashioned' contact details I'd appreciate them.

    Thanks again.

  20. We are in the early stages of buying a property in Vosges (88) and we need to find an accountant/tax advisor before much more time elapses.  Is there a website (like notaires.fr), or even better, can anybody make a recommendation?  We both speak reasonable French, even though my financial vocabulary is limited, so English-speaking is not essential.   

    We have a slightly complicated situation in that the French house will be our main residence, but, my husband's income will be taxed in the Netherlands, at least in the short-medium term.  We will (hopefully) have some income from holiday rentals which will be declared in France.    So we have an huge number of questions about setting up a business, social security, taxes etc etc. [8-)]

    Any advice gratefully received!


  21. Many thanks for that.  Both positive and negative views there.  I suspect the provision of care is something of a postcode lottery, and knowing where to go and who to speak to for information will be paramount.  I needed something to do to keep myself out of mischief![:)]


  22. We are in the early stages of buying a property in Vosges (88).  We have three children, 8, 5 and 4.  Our 4 year old is autistic.  Does anybody have any information about how autistic children are educated in France.  We have been told (by a French person) that the system favours mainstream schooling with extra help in the form of a classroom assistant .  Does anybody have any experience or knowledge of this?  We intend to send the other two children to the local state school, so it would be great if they all went to the same place - apart from anything else the two older ones look out for the little brother, and he does rely on them too.   I have other questions about therapies/treatment of autism, but perhaps I should post those on the healthcare forum.  Any help/information/advice gratefully received.


  23. We are in the early stages of buying a property in the Gerardmer/La Bresse area, so we (me, husband, 3 young children and dog) will be arriving shortly (with any luck!).  Currently on a 'finding out' frenzy, will let you know when we finally arrive. 

    I sometimes think we must be completely mad....


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