Jump to content

anybody seen dave21478 ?

Recommended Posts

  • 2 months later...
Im still alive, just not got much time for this forum these days.

The restaurant season is finished and this was the third year of a three year contract. I will not be renewing the contract. The mayors want to increase the rent I pay and in return they offer absolutely nothing. Again, I was left to pay repair and replacement bills for the equipment belonging to the place, so I will get no return from that. They wouldnt even bother sending a maintenance chap to unblock the leaves in the gutters to stop the terrace flooding in rain storms. They have no interest in investing in the place.

The season went fine.....weather was poor for June and July, so business was slow. It picked up a lot in August though, and whilst I am still waiting for the last few bills to come in, I would say overall profit was about the same as last year.

Despite supplier prices going up, fuel costs going up, delivery charges going up and everything else going up, I kept the prices the same as last year.

The campsite was as full as ever but people were simply spending less. It became a pretty common thing for a table of 3 or 4 people to order 2 meals and some empty plates for them to share the food. The sweeties, crepes and icecream side and afternoon drinks on the terrace absolutely panned this year....simply no takers, but plenty people hitting the nearby picnic areas with their supermarket bought food.

One thing that didnt help was that the campsite advertised in the "caf catalogue" this year for the first time. In France, families on welfare support are entitled to heavily discounted holidays, where they pay something like 20% and the state pays the rest. There is a list of campsites that accept this scheme and our campsite were added to this list this year, bringing a larger than normal number of these families. The camping staff having their morning coffee at my restaurant allowed me to get all the gossip and find out who was who within each weeks new arrivals.

I will now get my broadest paintbrush out to tar them all with it, but I stand by my comments.....EVERY single one of these families, without exception, were comprised of the rudest, most obnoxious, objectionable, foul mouthed, unlikable scumbags I have every had the misfortune of meeting. I am all in favour of welfare to help those in need.....to put food on the table, keep them clothed and warm, and if the state chooses to pay their holidays...well so be it. However, these families - supposedly on the edge of poverty - were ALL driving shiny, flash new cars, clothed in designer lables, sporting the latest I-pod/pad/phone/whatever, and ALL of them happy to flaunt it.

Something is rotten in Denmark, and just how rotten became obvious as I often had to cut one sandwich in half to feed two children from a normal family while the ignorant slobs at the next table demanded - not asked, DEMANDED - piles of chips, sweeties and junk before returning to their chalets, paid for by the taxpayer.

It wasnt just me - these families quickly earned a bad name for themselves with all the local businesses, who also remarked that they demanded the loudest while spending the least.

In other news, I had the usual staff problems. I started out with a great team with two waiters, both of whom had spent a lot of time in UK and "got" british humour and enjoyed a good laugh. Sadly one of them was involved in a serious car accident early in the season. He escaped with "only" a broken ankle but that put him out for the entire season. The paperwork involved with having staff on "arrete maladie" is a complete nightmare for all involved. I quickly found a replacement, a local-ish girl in her 20`s who was super at the job, but the dynamic of the team just wasnt the same.

The last few weeks I have spent undoing everything I did 3 years ago....removing all the new counters and shelves I put up, stripping everything out and returning the place to how it was on that day when I first picked up the keys. The doors closed to the public in early September, and A and myself removed the last few items of equipment 2 weeks ago.

So an era ends. I had fun, A agrees that overall it was a positive experience, but location, facilites and lack of support from the mayors mean there is no way we would continue the business.

Onto the next project.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re the CAF, I know exactly where you are coming from Dave and you have my sympathies, if its any comfort given the taste of what was to come you made the right decision to quit, some of us live amongst these types 12 months of the year and there is no respite except for les grande vacances when people like yourself get to shoulder the burden, I suppose that you can call that solidarity, I hope that in the future you will be able to appreciate that joke[:D]

Did you find that a lot of the teenagers didnt know how to eat with cutlery? At the lycée professionale we have to run a special course for the new intake (14-17 year olds) on what is expected from them in the canteen, to wait their turn in the queue, to return their dishes and tray and how cutlery is used as many of them have never eaten a proper meal at a table before and hold the knifes and forks in clenched fists pointing downwards a bit like the shower scene in Psycho.

Your comments reminded me of what a hard working "normal" friend told me some 15 maybe 20 years ago about when he worked and saved hard to take his family on a well deserved camping holiday in France, he told me virtually the same story except he wasnt complaining about the CAF claimants (doubtless there were some but he would not have known who they were) but the comportment of the UK families in receipt of welfare and disability benefits with Motability cars.

And please please try to do another episode of the restaurant saga, you have many eager fans on here and you should one day include it in a book with no doubt the next adventure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I'm not going to pick an argument with you or Dave but please do not classify all receipients of CAF, disability benefit or whatever in the same category as the ones Dave came across this season. We all have a pretty good idea of the members on here in receipt of some disability benefits but those benefitting from CAF may feel deeply offended by your comments but too embarrassed to reply.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rest assured that I dont Benjamin.

My comments on the holidaymakers on disability benefit were second hand and probably 20 years old.

I guess back then France was a cheap destination for the French and other countries, I expect most on a budget will go to Spain these days but I doubt that they can take the CAF subsidy abroad.

The relative cost of France compared to spain as a destination is going to significantly change the demographic in the camping sector, it is no longer the cheap option for those paying the full price.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It isn't just the CAF that give out huge allowances for holidays, many CE's do too, 80% of the cost of a holiday is of great help to many.

And in France many are on terrible pay, even when not on the SMIC and the rents in my old area are high too, so there isn't much money for holidays without some 'help'.

What I don't understand is why a family would be asking Dave to cut a sandwich in half. When we have been low on cash, we make up our own picnic up rather than using a café. It just seems like good sense to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Making your own picnic would possibly be cheaper, but the sandwiches I sold were very, very good value. In hindsight they were probably too cheap.

And Chancer, Yes! many of the kids were unable to use cutlery properly, coupled with no understanding of queueing, waiting their turn, sharing or playing fair with other kids, non-existent conversation skills ( I never, EVER got a Hello, Please or Thankyou from them) and no idea about the simplest mental arithmetic. Not just wee kids either, all ages including the teenagers, and the parents were not a lot better.

Vandalism and petty thefts were much higher this year too. Coincidence?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Dave,

your postings and your experiences have been a breath of fresh air!

You will never make the progress you deserve whilst living in France .

I am sure there are many countries where you would succeed and get just rewards however, France is not one of them ,

Kind regards,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second that, bravo to you Dave, you built up something from nothing and had the nounce to walk away at the right time.

There have been a few well run businesses around here and they have cartoned, the common feature of all of them was a personable team and common sense, not rocket science but it might as well have been.

All of them sold after about 3 years because of the jealousy and denonciations etc, in every case the new owners having borrowed loads of money to buy the going concern didnt get at all what it was that made it a success, they thought that they could just turn up, be as rude to people as they have always been and get rich, in a very short time the opposite happens. In fact they would have had to do so much better than the previous encumbents to pay off the borrowed money and still take a salary.

I have witnessed several of these and there are a few things that I still just dont get, why do the banks lend money so freely and not learn from their previous investments? 

Why do the new owners seem to think it important to buy/lease a top of the range car each and perhpas a refrigerated van that gets used once a month?

Why do they close for the 2 months of the tourist season?

And why do these businesses seem to hang on for years when they appear to be losing money hand over foot? Perhaps the banks are protected by family members being guarantors.

I bought my place from the liquidator and in the legal documents you can see that hypotheques were being put against the place every year by les impôts for close to a decade during which time by all accounts the owners had a string of new BMW's.

Back to Dave, he will do well wherever he is even in France, yes perhaps not as well as in another country but most of us knew we would be foregoing something to come and live here, a competent guy who is not afraid of hard work will never be at a loose end or go hungry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sadly Leo, you are absolutely right.

Its a conclusion I came to a while ago, and I suppose that ever since that moment I tend to concentrate on the negatives in life here. I love France, but I doubt that I can live here for much longer. Lack of competition, lack of options, insane prices and the bureaucracy with its stubborn refusal to do anything other than make things needlessly complex are some of the reasons that add up to me realising that I am wasting my time here. I'm not particularly driven by money and have no need or desire to have riches and a Playboy lifestyle but at the moment I get by and getting by is not enough in the long term.

The problem is that I have no idea what to do next. In a way, I have been very lucky up until now....everything has just rolled out in front of me - opportunities have arisen and I have taken them and the culmination so far is quite a comfortable life in the south of France which is pretty good going for a 34 year old guy by anyones standards, but I have not got a clue as to what the next step may be and there is nothing obvious on the horizon at the moment. One thing holding me here is my inherent Scottish tightness - The global economy is in the toilet and China may well be about to pull the flush handle, so its possibly not a great time to walk away from plentiful work and a very beneficial(and rather unusual) housing arrangement.

I just don't know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
Not sure if you'll read this dave but we empathise with you; France and its administration crapped on us too in the end. We left and started from scratch again. Not doing too badly either.

France...? over-rated, over-priced, over-done and - thank god - over THERE!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...
I am still here, thanks for asking. I lurk on the forum from time to time, but post little.

Thoroughly, utterly, fed up with France and all things French.....today was a nice example - an entire afternoon wasted driving round God-knows how many shops and garages..... Non, Desole....pas en stock monsieur....non, on a pas ca, monsieur....peut etre sur commande..... delai de 3 semaines.....

Its not as if I am looking for the Elixir of Life....just a fucking tyre for a lawn mower and some exhaust manifold studs. In Aberdeen, I could list several places that I KNOW would have these things in stock without even having to think hard about it, but here in a comparable sized city - forget it.

And then in this supposed recession, I am still waiting for any artisan to bother themselves to quote for a job for a clients property. Yes, I know its Les Vacances, but still, we are talking a high five-figure - possibly six figures sum for the job, but nobody, and I mean NOBODY is interested in taking it on. I shit you not - I am now looking into the legalities of getting a crew up from Spain to do the work - artisans there are desperate and willing to work.

First chance I get, I am out of here. Screw the jobs, screw the house...everything. I NEED to change before I go properly mental. Nothing is on the horizon though....and I don't know where I will go.

Just need to keep looking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...