By the Seine, By the Beautiful Seine
Picnicking on the Sand — the Opening Evening of Paris Plage
French Property Insider
Thursday, July 22, 2004
Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,
We watched it happen before our very eyes…Paris Plage…three and-a-half kilometers of summer sensations along the Seine from the Pont Henri IV to the quai des Tuileries. This is the third year of “Beach Blanket Bingo” in the City of Light, thanks to our illustrious Mayor Bertrand Delano.
There are several paths down, but the one I like most is at the rear of the Htel de Ville where you will meander down among enormous trees potted in red cane. It’s absolute eye candy and the beginning of your adventure.
The stroll along the waterfront, whether you choose to turn west or east, is a sensation-packed experience. There is always the stunning view of the grand buildings along the Ile de la Cit as you pass from one recreation spot to another, the blue flags along the water’s edge “gliding” you along.
In tomorrow’s Parler Paris, I’ll give you a detailed account of what you can expect to find, but meanwhile, for complete information by the city of Paris (in French), visit: http://www.paris.fr/fr/actualites/ete_paris_2004/Paris_plage_2004/default.asp If you’re not already a subscriber to the tri-weekly free newsletter and would like to be, visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis.
In today’s FPI, we’re bringing you several fabulous apartments with views of the Seine. Yes, they’re “cher!” — it’s true what they say about good property: “location, location, location.”
In another part of France — La France Profonde — Gloria Chaitt-Morris takes us to what she calls “Mini Paris”: Vichy, “a tiny jewel of a city” that has all the charm and culture of Paris without the bustle, the high prices, the pollution, or any of the faults so often mentioned when speaking of the City of Light. Jocelyn Carnegie offers us some hot properties there, as well as a leaseback in northeastern France worth serious consideration.
And we hope you will find the latest statistics on cost of living of interest. Paris ranks well below other world class cities such as Tokyo, London, Moscow, Hong Kong and New York. Still with room to grow, we continue to believe buying in Paris can be a no-lose proposition. In fact, don’t miss the “sales pitch” I make for La Vie Franaise — your ammunition against your friends and relatives who think you’ve lost your marbles dreaming of living in that foreign place where they eat un-pasteurized cheese, frogs’ legs and snails.
Editor, French Property Insider
P.S. Several new apartments have been added to the roster of apartments offered for short term rental by International Living! Be sure to visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/apartments for more details.
Volume II, Issue 30, July 22, 2004
In this issue:
* In the Heart of France — Discover a Mini Paris
* How Paris Stacks Up Against Other World Class Cities
* Learn to Maneuver La Vie Franaise
* Lock in Your Seat at the Washington, D.C. Conference
* Currency Exchange Update
* Hot Property: Leaseback Property in Northeast France
* Property For Sale: Views of the Seine
* Classified Advertising: Vacation Spots
FPI Subscribers: To read the issue in its entirety go to
To access this password protected page: username: fpiuser and the password: paris1802.
VICHY – A MINI PARIS WITHOUT BIG CITY HASSLES
By Gloria Chaitt-Morris
Hidden in almost the exact center of France is a mini Paris. A tiny jewel of a city, it has all the charm and culture of Paris without the bustle, the high prices, the pollution, or any of the faults so often mentioned when speaking of the City of Light. Yet it is almost unknown to the outside world.
Vichy dates from the Gallo-Roman era. In 52 BC, Cesar crossed a bridge here, and the Romans were the first to discover the healing virtues of the Vichy sources.
Vichy has served as the capital of France twice: Once under Napoleon III, the Second Empire and “age d’Or de Vichy (1860-1890) and for four years as the capital of Free France during WWII (1940-1944).
Since 1374, this small city has enjoyed centuries of fame as a center of leisure, and a reputation for quasi-miraculous cures. Kings, Princes, Maharajas, Sheiks and celebrities from all over the world came regularly. However, since the 1950′s, when inexpensive holidays, to exotic destinations became popular, much of the
world, including the French, has forgotten about its charm; its casinos, its famous race course and 1920′s golf course; the exquisite Paris style opera house with outstanding theatrical and lyric presentations – year round and the 13 hectares of beautiful botanical parks.,
“Le Fidel Berger” (the faithful shepherd), a tearoom and patisserie that dates back 140 years, is one tiny example of the ongoing charm of present day Vichy. This historic landmark is presided over today by a young French couple, and offers some of the best and most artistic French pastry in France – at reasonable prices. Sebastian Bonamour, the “Matre Patissier” starts work at 4 a.m. to produce works of gastronomic art like the cake shown here, that taste even better than they look. His charming and beautiful wife, Stephanie, presides over the tearoom. Everything is “fait maison,” from the chocolates to the ice cream, even a great cup of hot chocolate. If you visit Vichy, make sure to enjoy a melt-in-your-mouth croissant and coffee for breakfast, or even better, afternoon tea and pastry at the “Fidel Berger”.
There are excellent restaurants and beautiful historical sights, all within a radius of 50 kilometers. This area boasts of more chteaux per square kilometer than any part of Europe, not to mention the medieval fortresses, roman ruins, and even a Gallo-roman ruin where you can still find pieces of pottery from the period, sitting in the fields!
The city of Vichy, for the most part, has not been rebuilt. The old luxury hotels are being closed and turned into apartments – most of which are “fix-me-ups.” The prices have risen in the past three years, but are still excellent compared to Paris, Aix-en-Provance, Avignon or the Cte d’Azur.
All Vichy has to offer is charm, beautiful vistas, wonderful food, lots of activities for visitors of all ages and tastes, places to stay from five star hotels to furnished apartments and tiny family owned hotels. Best of all… hospitable people and excellent prices. What more could you ask?
PARIS RANKS 17TH ON THE COST OF LIVING SCALE
Finfacts Worldwide 2004 Cost of Living Survey City Rankings
A few highlights…
Tokyo and London are worlds most expensive cities; Asuncion in Paraguay is cheapest.
Three of the five cheapest European cities are in countries that recently gained EU accession.
Dublin is the 4th most expensive city in the European Union 25.
Australian and New Zealand cities rise steeply in rankings due to appreciation of currencies against US dollar.
Tokyo remains the worlds most expensive city, according to the latest cost of living survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. London moves up five places in the rankings to take second position, followed by Moscow which moves down a place this year. Asuncion in Paraguay is the least expensive city in the survey.
“There have been some dramatic movements in the rankings this year which are largely due to currency fluctuations, particularly of the US dollar and the Euro,” said Marie-Laurence Sepede, Senior Researcher at Mercer.
With New York as the base city scoring 100 points, Tokyo scores 130.7 and is more than three times costlier than Asuncion which has an index of 42.7.
The gap between the worlds most and least expensive cities has narrowed only marginally this year, by less than two points compared to four points last year and 15 points in 2002.
The survey found the cost of renting a luxury unfurnished two-bedroom apartment in London was 1,950 a month, compared with 840 (1,250 Euros) in Dublin, 1,311 in Paris and 908 in Rome. (1 British Pound = 1.51492 Euro: 1 British Pound = 1.81830 US Dollar; 1 Euro = 1.20290 US Dollar; 1 US Dollar = 0.83146 Euro).
The cost of a fast-food hamburger meal at 6.5 Euro (USD$7.8) is more expensive in Dublin than in all but two of the 144 city sample. The cost in New York is 4.63 Euro (USD$5.67); Sydney 3.65 Euro (USD$4.37) and 1.93 Euro (USD$2.32) in Beijing.
A cup of coffee with table service, costs 2.75 Euro ($3.30) in Dublin; 2.75 Euro ($3.30) in New York, 6.60 Euro ($5.48) in Tokyo and 1.32 Euro($1.10) in Buenos Aires.
The survey covers 144 cities and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location. These include housing, food, clothing and household goods as well as transportation and entertainment.
London is the most expensive city in Europe, with a score of 119. High accommodation and transport costs together with the appreciation of the pound against the US dollar have pushed the city up in the rankings. However, Mrs. Sepede said: “The scores are based on the cost of living for expatriates, who are more likely to stay in Central London where accommodation is most expensive.” Glasgow and Birmingham rank lower in the UK at positions 41 and 51 respectively (scores 84.1 and 82.8).
After London, Geneva is the next most expensive city in Europe ranked in 6th position (106.2) followed by Copenhagen in 8th place (102.2). Other high scoring cities include Zurich ranked 9th (101.6), Milan ranked 13th (98.7), Dublin in 14th place (96.9), Oslo in 15th place (96.2) and Paris in 17th position (94.8). Mrs. Sepede commented: “Since the Euro was introduced in 2002, many European cities have moved up in the rankings.”
At the other extreme, three of the five cheapest European cities are in countries that gained EU accession in May. Bucharest in Romania is the least expensive European city ranked 129 (60.1) followed by Limassol in Cyprus in 95th place (70.3).
Mrs. Sepede commented: “Looking ahead, we are likely to see cities in the new EU accession countries rise in the rankings, as more investment is made in commercial development and standards of living increase.”
2004 City Ranking
|1 Tokyo, Japan
2 London, UK
3 Moscow, Russia
4 Osaka, Japan
5 Hong Kong
6 Geneva, Switzerland
7 Seoul, South Korea
8 Copenhagen, Denmark
9 Zrich, Switzerland
10 St. Petersburg, Russia
11 Beijing, China
12 New York City, USA
13 Milan, Italy
14 Dublin, Ireland
15 Oslo, Norway
16 Shanghai, China
17 Paris, France
18 Istanbul, Turkey
19 Vienna, Austria
20 Sydney, Australia
21 Rome, Italy
22 Stockholm, Sweden
23 Helsinki, Finland
24 Abidjan, Ivory Coast
25 Douala, Cameroon
|73 Houston, USA
74 Almaty, Kazakhstan
75 Tallinn, Estonia
76 Warsaw, Poland
77 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
78 Manama, Bahrain
79 Sofia, Bulgaria
80 Auckland, New Zealand
81 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
82 Ljubljana, Slovenia
83 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
84 Mexico City, Mexico
85 Atlanta, USA
86 Wellington, New Zealand
87 Brisbane, Australia
88 Adelaide, Australia
89 Toronto, Canada
90 Seattle, USA
91 Vilnius, Lithuania
92 St. Louis, USA
93 Leipzig, Germany
94 Perth, Australia
95 Limassol, Cyprus
96 Vancouver, Canada
97 Accra, Ghana
98 Cleveland, USA
99 Cairo, Egypt
100 Denver, USA
101 Detroit, USA
102 Monterrey, Mexico
103 Kingston, Jamaica
104 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
105 Portland, USA
106 Panama City
107 Winston Salem, USA
108 Guatemala City, Guatemala
109 Mumbai, India
110 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
111 Lagos, Nigeria
112 Pittsburgh, USA
113 Montreal, Canada
114 Calgary, Canada
115 Tianjin, China
116 New Delhi, India
117 Dacca (Dhaka), Bangladesh
118 Lima, Peru
119 Bangkok, Thailand
120 Tunis, Tunisia
121 Nairobi, Kenya
122 Tehran, Iran
123 Santiago, Chile
124 Ottawa, Canada
125 Lusaka, Zambia
126 Johannesburg, South Africa
127 Colombo, Sri Lanka
128 So Paulo, Brazil
129 Bucharest, Romania
130 San j2999, Costa Rica
131 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
132 Karachi, Pakistan
133 Chennai (Madras), India
134 Caracas, Venezuela
135 Blantyre, Malawi
136 Quito, Ecuador
137 Bangalore, India
138 Manila, Philippines
139 Bogot, Colombia
140 Harare, Zimbabwe
141 Buenos Aires, Argentina
142 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
143 Montevideo, Uruguay
144 Asuncin, Paraguay
Source: Mercer Consulting Europe
THE INTRICACIES OF LA VIE FRANAISE
By Adrian Leeds
My trusty American Heritage Dictionary says an intricacy is something having many complexly arranged elements, elaborate, and even solvable or comprehensible, but with painstaking effort. That describes working and living in Paris to a tee.
Thousands of Americans of all ages come here every year in the hope of a job, career, new friends — in short, a new life. Paris is very sduisant (seductive), so if you come here on vacation once or twice, it’s easy to get hooked. Beauty, culture, cuisine, language, style, art, literature, history, romance, architecture…its all here for the asking, as long as you’re willing to pay the price.
I know Paris red tape. I’ve been through it, over it, around it, under it, on top of it, behind it, and in the middle of it. And somehow I have survived to tell the tale.
To start, by law you are expected to have a visa if you plan on staying more than three months (carte de sjour). You must apply for it long before you come to France (from a French consulate). Immigrations laws and procedures are quite complex. To fully understand what kind of visa you should be applying for, if at all, we recommend that you consult with the consulate, a professional, or our office before proceeding .
Obtaining the Right to Be in France
Thousands of Americans are living in France without a visa. The process to acquire a carte de sjour is long, tedious, and extremely bureaucratic. From the outset you will spend hours waiting to be seen by a fonctionnaire (civil servant), whose only real authority is over your right to be here. Be sweet — these powerful folk could determine your residence here, or lack thereof, in a matter of moments.
Learning la langue Franaise
It makes a big difference if you can speak French, at least a little. More and more French people speak reasonably good English, but you can never really be a part of France without a certain level of the language. You can enroll in a language school or take private lessons or immersion courses to get up to speed. The French-English Conversation Group I co-host (Parler Parlor) is a great way to practice, but its tough to start speaking without a basis in grammar and a moderate level of vocabulary.
Don’t assume that three months in a good crash course of French is going to turn you into a fluent speaker. Unless you are nine years old with a brain like a sponge, it will take years to learn this language well. Besides, who wants to spend all their time in Paris in a classroom suffering over the subjonctif? My advice is to relax, take courses or lessons at an easy pace, and let osmosis do the rest while you en
joy every minute of your new life in France.
Adjusting to the French way
While finding a job or creating a new career for yourself in France is the ultimate challenge (especially without working papers), adapting to the cultural climate is something that could take your lifetime. You might be fooled into thinking that we and the French are much alike, but I can assure you, in every aspect of life the French have a different perspective — a perspective that makes their behavior patterns tremendously different from ours.
This is the subject of many books on France, particularly the two (which have become bibles for many) written by Polly Platt: French or Foe? and Savoir Flair: 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French. She writes: ” French people are different. Wonderfully different and differently wonderful. The trick is in knowing what the differences are.” Her books brilliantly explain not only what the differences are, but why. Her advice, if taken, will lead you to a clear understanding and ultimate success in your new life in this country.
After ten years of studiously experimenting with Polly’s advice (she speaks at many of our conferences and workshops in Paris) and having been the subject of one of her tales about French customer service (or lack of), I can honestly say I have finally crossed the cultural divide and now manage to maneuver very successfully within the system.
I’ve learned not to smile at just anything or anyone. I’ve learned to say bonjour, au revoir, merci, and s’il vous plit every 10 seconds, deserving or not. I’ve learned to flirt and use charm with every waiter or sales person to get what I’m after. I’ve learned to apologize humbly before asking any question and knowing that if I don’t ask the right question, I wont get the right answer. I’ve learned to cross the streets on the red at a slow pace, wear skirts in the middle of winter, and have my coffee last as a separate course. I’ve learned that you don’t have to trade one thing for another. You can have it all and enjoy it without guilt, like a cheese course before a crme brule, or five weeks of paid vacation all taken at one time (usually in August). And most importantly, I’ve learned that life is for living, here and now, and that money doesn’t have anything to do with quality of life. It’s attitude that matters, especially here in France.
World’s best healthcare
If you haven’t heard already, the World Health Organization has determined that medical care in France is the best in the world. The US of A, on the other hand, ranks 37th in overall health system performance. All legal residents of France are covered by public health insurance. The population has no choice to opt out!– compared to 40% in the U.S. And look at the life expectancy with all that butter, cheese, and wine, the French live 2.5 years longer than Americans (averaging men and women). If you’re traveling in France and need a doctor, just call S.O.S. (01) 47-077-777, in English tel. (01) 462-134-646, the house-call service that puts a doctor at your door within 30 minutes, for about $35. Not a bad deal.
Free and finest education
If you havet kids, then the quality of education in France will be a big plus. And it’s free. Public education, which caters to more than 80% of the pupils, is secular. The Framework Law on education of July 1989 established education as the top national priority and sets as its objective to educate an entire age group to at least the level of the vocational aptitude certificate (CAP) or vocational studies certificate (BEP) and 80% of the group to Baccalaurat level within 10 years.
How safe are you?
France is also safe. France ranks 47th with 62.67 crimes per capita compared with the U.S. ranking of 53rd with 81.55 crimes per capita. The homicide rate is one-fourth that of the U.S.
Centrally located for fast, easy access to anywhere in Europe
France is centrally located to the rest of Europe. It is bordered by Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. You can travel center city to center city to Amsterdam in four-and-a-half hours, London in two-and-a-half hours, and Montpelier in three hours and fifteen minutes by the TGV (Train Grande Vitesse). You can easily make it a day trip — its so fast and inexpensive.
Property is still a bargain
Paris is a tightly defined region within which property prices do not vary as widely as in other cities. The average price per square foot for apartments in the most expensive arrondissement, the 6th, is only a little over twice the price you’d pay in the cheapest arrondissement, the 19th. Prices in the city continue to increase over each year, by as much as 17% in some areas. Today, a studio of 220 square feet costs on average $100,000, a two-bedroom of about 800 square feet costs $350,000, and a three-bedroom apartment of about 1000 square feet costs $475,000. Compare these prices with New York, San Francisco and London. Even with the increases, property in Paris can be a bargain.
Income tax–the French way
Anything to do with tax in France is horrendously tricky and, of course, depends on your personal circumstances. Income tax is derived from the total taxable earnings of the fiscal household, which includes income from a spouse, children under 18 years of age, and, in some cases, adult children too. An important point to note is that income tax in France is not levied at source. Each household submits a joint income declaration to the tax authority. (An employer does not participate in any way in the process.) Various allowances, deductions, and treaty provisions are applied to the annual disposable income to arrive at the net taxable income. Tax is then levied at progressive rates, to a top rate of 53.25% on net incomes exceeding 45,000 (about US$51,000).
Meeting the challenges
If you are thinking of working and living in this country, try to break down the challenges you’re facing into what, who, and why you need to know:
What to know: the language, how to meet people, the culture, the culture, the culture.
Who to know: experts in their fields, people who have been through it, people who make things happen, supportive friends (not only the French, but all nationalities).
How to know: study, read, network, volunteer, ask questions, ask questions, ask questions.
Mark your calendar for the exciting upcoming conferences sponsored by the International Living Paris Office!
Living and Investing in
September 10 – 12, 2004
Dinner and Virtual Tour of Paris with Thirza
Walking Tour of French-Speaking DC
LIF_DC Walking Tour
Single in the City of Light
(And Loving It!) with Adrian Leeds The Westin Grand – Conference Site
LIF_DC Single in the City