How to Start Looking for Property in France
The Canal du Midi, Languedoc-Roussillon, photo by Norm Hartman
French Property Insider
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,
The year is coming to a close and it’s natural to think about starting off a new year on the right foot. One of the questions we had during last week’s FPI conference call was: “What’s the best way of getting started looking for property in France?”
No doubt, buying property in France can seem like a daunting experience. That’s likely the primary reason so many “dreamers” just keep on dreaming and reading publications such as this one to fulfill their fantasies.
But the dream can more easily become a reality than one might think. We know, because we do it for people every single day. In fact, that’s why I’m here to tell you about it…I did it myself once, too.
How to turn your dream into a reality:
1. Start reading anything you can get your hands on about buying property in France. FPI is a great place to start — so don’t hesitate to print the articles you think are relevant and start your own file of reference material.
2. Start to think about WHAT it is you really want to own and WHY. I cannot begin to express how important it is for you to understand the answers to these simple questions. In the beginning, you may not have all the answers very well defined, but always keep your eye on the question and as you proceed, the picture will get clearer.
3. Visit the area you’re thinking of owning property. If it’s rural France, rent a car and drive from one town to another. Get to know the region and talk to the locals. If it’s Paris, walk the streets, get to know the arrondissements, talk to people who live there and don’t assume that just because as a tourist you always stayed on the Left Bank and it started to feel like home, that this is where owning your pied-à-terre is perfect (I made this same mistake and then discovered Le Marais by sheer chance!).
4. Talk to the lending institutions and get a pre-approval for a mortgage if you need one. We work with several and the ones we recommend are happy to assist you in this effort. Visit the site at http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/loan for their contact information. One word of advice — don’t assume you can only afford to spend “X” amount on that property — let the agent help you look at varying terms, rates and options to determine how much you really can borrow and therefore spend on the property (estimating 20% down, 10% allowance for Notaire fees and other fees, the rest in mortgage).
5. Consult with a professional to understand the inheritance laws and how purchasing property as a company (LLC or SCI) can be an advantage or disadvantage. We can help you within a certain range of issues, but if your individual situation is more complicated, we can refer you to a Notaire or other legal advisor. Either way, you’ll be prepared to know HOW you want to structure the purchase.
5. Plan a property search excursion of at least one week (absolute minimum to accomplish anything) and be prepared to buy. Either you do the search yourself by visiting many agents and scouring the classifieds (this method could take weeks or months), or you employ a search team to do the legwork for you in advance of your arrival. When we work with a client, we spend at least a couple of hours in consultation narrowing down the goals of the search. Then we visit many properties that fit the criteria days before their plane lands in France…and ONLY days!…because the best properties sell withing three weeks of being on the market, so there’s no point in reviewing the listings any earlier.
6. Visit the properties. If you’re doing the search yourself, you’re going to see a lot of properties you’d never consider. Remember, the ones advertised in agency windows and the ones with lots of glossy photos haven’t sold quickly for a reason. They are unlikely to be your best find. If a search professional is working with you, he/she will have already weeded out the selection, leaving a few of the best for consideration. We’ve had excellent luck with clients settling on property only the second day of the visit process!
7. Negotiate with the owner and set up the signing of the “Promesse de Vente” with your Notaire. You don’t have a deal until it’s signed, sealed and delivered — so book the signing in advance in anticipation that the negotiations will go smoothly. We have certainly assisted in negotiating fair prices, ways to reduce Notaire fees and coordinated all aspects of the signing process. In fact, we usually have power of attorney for our clients to sign on their behalf (I’m signing Monday on the “Acte de Vente” [final sale document] for one of our clients purchasing a 16th-century pied-à-terre in the Marais!).
8. Wire the 10% deposit to the Notaire (takes up to 72 hours). It is sure to arrive by the time the Promesse de Vente is signed for a second time (remember — there is a 7-day buyer’s remorse law that enforces a second signing).
9. Within 90 days, all the paperwork will be done (securing the mortgage, getting a bank account, wiring the rest of the money, etc., etc.), on your own or with our assistance, and the Acte de Vente will be scheduled for signing so that you can be the official owner of the property from that day forward.
Then the real fun begins!
Editor, French Property Insider
P.S. Jocelyn Carnegie is our Property Sales Manager who’s primary purpose is to help you turn your dream into a realily. Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/propertyconsultation.html for more information or email him directly at email@example.com
Volume I, Issue 45, December 18, 2003
In this issue:
* Conference Calling About Hot Properties in Paris
* Take a Weekend in San Francisco to Learn All About Living in France
* Author Cara Black Talks About Murder in Paris
* Montpellier is France’s New Hot Spot
* The Final Touches at Rue de la Huchette
* The Compelling Story of the Cathars, Part I
* A Currency Exchange Update
* Hot Property:
* Property For Sale:
* General FPI Information…
REPORTING ON THE CONFERENCE CALL:
HOT PROPERTY SPOTS OF PARIS
Sunday evening, December 14th, Jocelyn Carnegie left his home on the outskirts of Paris at 5:30 p.m. to meet at the IL Paris Office to co-moderate the Conference Call. At 7 p.m. he got stuck in an “embouteillage” (traffic jam) at Porte d’Orléans and called with concern that he wouldn’t make it on time. We thought of every possibility, including a way of dumping the car and hopping on the Métro, but no reprise to even do that was in sight.
By 8 p.m., he had hardly moved 100 yards so with a freshly charged new portable phone, he was able to access the call and talk about hot properties in Paris for one solid hour while still stuck in traffic! When the call ended at 9 p.m., he had only progressed as far as Alésia…so he turned around and headed home. He had five hours in the car with little to show for it, except that now we know he might as well stay home next time around!
On a brighter note, our participants had serious questions…they wanted to know more about the 1948 tenant law apartments, how the management of a rental apartment functions and what’s the best way to get started looking for property.
At the end of the call, Jocelyn’s closing remark’s were: “I have one word of advice…don’t include a car in your budget for moving to Paris!”
The next scheduled conference call is Sunday, April 4th at 8 p.m. Paris time, 2 p.m. Eastern time. Mark your calendars now, but don’t worry, we’ll give you plenty of advance notice.
LIVING AND INVESTING IN FRANCE CONFERENCE
MARCH 19 – 21, 2004
If you’ve always dreamed of moving to France, starting a new life in Paris, enjoying a “pied-à-terre” of your own part of the year or investing in property in France, this power-packed conference is a MUST. Hosted by the International Living Paris Office and Adrian Leeds, Editorial Director and Editor of the Parler Paris daily newsletter, these two-and-a-half days in San Francisco will arm you with all the information you need to make it happen! The line-up for the conference includes seminars, discussions, dinner, cocktails — with well-known Paris, Europe and U.S.-based experts in the fields of:
* Obtaining the Right to Be in France
* Making the Move
* Finding Property
* Buying and Owning Property
* Renting Your Property for Profit
* Learning About the Leaseback Program
* Getting a Mortgage
* Smart Offshore Investments
* Minimizing Your Tax Liability
* And more!
You’ll have an opportunty to ask questions and learn all you’ll need to know to make your dream come true to live in France or just be a part of the profits on owning property there. We’ll open with a cocktail party, enjoy a dinner together and discover all the fabulous atmosphere San Francisco has to offer.
Brought to you by and hosted by the International Living Paris Office…visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/liveinfrance/LIFhome.html
Reservations and information, contact:
Schuyler Hoffman, Special Projects Manager
Toll Free in the U.S. 1-877-IL PARIS (1-877-457-2747)
+33 (0) 188.8.131.52.59
A CONVERSATION WITH CARA BLACK (CB)
Interviewed by Terrance Gelenter, Paris-Expat.com (TG)
San Francisco based Cara Black’s career is about to take off with the publication of the critically acclaimed third installment of her murder by arrondissement thrillers featuring the spike-haired, tattooed, Parisian detective, Aimée Leduc. We recently sat down at the appropriately French Baker Street Bistro for lunch. Cara arrived for our interview looking very Leducish, dressed in a black turtleneck and black jeans. Over a salad, followed by an excellent espresso we discussed her connection to Paris.
TG: When did you first go to Paris?
CB: In 1971. I was traveling to Europe, I was young and I was hitchhiking around. I met Romain Gary (author of Promise at Dawn and winner of the Prix Goncourt as Emile Ajar) and slept at his home. He was suing Newsweek for claiming that his wife (Jean Seberg) had been pregnant by a Black Panther. We went to his apartment on the rue du Bac. He took us for a coffee and smoked a huge cigar and yelled about Newsweek, but it was pretty cool.
TG: How did you connect with him?
CB: I had written him a letter. I really liked his work. So he sent me his address.
TG: When did the idea to write a book set in Paris occur to you?
CB: It started in 1984 when I went to Paris and stayed with my girlfriend Sara whose m
other had some of the experiences I write about in the Marais. Sara took me to there. And just picture the Marais before gentrification. She said, “I’m going show you a place most people don’t go. I remember walking around and thinking that this place is so different. So many of the hotels (large 16th century mansions) like the Carnavalet and what is now the Picasso Museum were a mess and she said that her mother used to live in one. Whole families lived in these rooms with huge ceilings to keep warm. She told me that one day her mother came back from school and everyone was gone; all their bags were gone and they never came back. But she had no where else to go. She had no identity card because she wasn’t sixteen; she didn’t have a ration card-she didn’t know what to do. But the concierge helped her, unlike in my story.
TG: When did you write Murder in the Marais?
CB: I went back in 1994. My son was five and I remember walking around the Place de Vosges after I put my son to bed and the whole story came back to me. I remember getting on the plane back to San Francisco and thinking — oh God! After waking up at home completely jet lagged I sat down at the computer and it came.
TG: This was your first book. Had you been writing before?
CB: I had been working on a mystery. I had started taking a fiction class at UC Extension, a mystery writing class. I had never thought about writing about Paris-it just came out.
TG: Where did Aimée Leduc come from?
CB: She is her own person but she comes from many people. I couldn’t write as a Frenchwoman because I’m not French. (Aimée is half French, half American). She’s neither fish nor fowl. She doesn’t belong in French society and she doesn’t belong in American society. Her father was a flic (cop) her mother left the family. She’s kind of out there.
TG: When you sat down to write the story why wasn’t Aimée more conventional; Dior clad, Chanel scented, scarved — très sixième?
CB: Because I don’t know that world. I’m not really comfortable on the Left Bank. I feel better in the Marais, I feel better in Belleville. I feel that I just can’t compete and I like the other places. I like the places that people don’t go to. I think they’re easier to write about, they feel more French to me. Like the Bastille — utterly Parisian to me. Some of the trades are still there. There was this cobbler in the Marais who’s in the book because he’d been there since the thirties. He got the shop from his father. What stories he could tell! So there are all of these little places that really are Paris!
TG: Is that how you do your research? You walk into stores and introduce yourself?
CB: I just observe. I pick up on things.
TG: We know the inspiration for the Marais but why Belleville for the second book?
CB: (Before Cara answers my question she has a flash she can’t wait to share) Oh! Deluc Detective. I just happened to pass it on he rue du Louvre and I said I need a detective. It’s run by a woman who inherited it from her father and I talked to her and thought she (Aimée) could be here. She could do this. And when I ended the first book the characters kept on living, they didn’t stop because the case was over and I thought maybe they’ll (her publisher) buy another book. My friend lived in Belleville, a single mom and I stayed with her. She lives in subsidized housing but nice. I’d take her daughter to school. Go the markets. And she said why don’t you write about here and how it’s so different on the boulevard de Belleville. There are Sephardics, Ashkenaz, a Syrian butcher. You just sit down on the boulevard, have a mint tea and write about everything that goes by. And it’s true. It really is vibrant.
TG: And the new book: Murder in the Sentier. Did you once date a Jewish guy in the rag trade?
CB: I was walking through the Marais and I said I’m not going to take a bus-I’ll walk. I was too cheap to buy a ticket. I had to get to the Rue St Denis and then I noticed the buildings and it was just like the Marais before it was gentrified-funky and old. I walked on to St Denis and saw the hookers. But you gotta hand it to them. They’re out there working in the cold. I really feel for them. They don’t have Les Halles any more and these computer people are moving into Silicon Sentier. So I imagine it’s hard. But I thought this place is amazing! It’s central Paris; it’s really historic; it’s really funky.
TG: Congratulations and I look forward to hearing about the 4th Aimée Leduc investigation at a future event.
I didn’t have long to wait. I boarded a plane for Paris later that week and just three weeks later at a San Francisco reception for author Thad Carhart, Cara proudly proclaimed that book #4, set in the Bastille would be available in Spring 2003.
EDITOR’S NOTE: You’ll have a chance to meet Cara Black at the Living and Investing in France Conference, March 19 – 21, 2004, San Francisco, California — she’s speaking opening night! Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/liveinfrance/LIFhome.html for more information. To learn more about Cara Black or to purchase her books, visit http://www.carablack.com/, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Big City With Small Town Appeal
By Schuyler Hoffman
A thousand years of trade and intellectual activity have made Montpellier one of the largest and most popular cities in Languedoc-Roussillon. Sold to France in 1349, and despite near total destruction in 1622 for its Protestantism, and depression in the wine trade during the early years of this century, its growth and popularity has continued. Today it competes with Toulouse for the title of most dynamic city in the south of France. With the TGV (Train de Grande Vitesse) traveling from Paris to Montpellier in only 3 hours 15 minutes, Montpellier has easily stepped out to take the lead.
Capital city of the region, the center of Montpellier — the old town — is small and compact, architecturally homogeneous yet full of charm and bustling with life…except for July and August when the students are gone and everyone else is at the beach on holidays. Old town is mad up almost entirely of pedestrian streets. You can easily walk the narrow streets without looking anxiously over your shoulder. Let’s take a quick tour of the city, shall we?
At the center of the city’s life, joining the old sections to the more recent, is Place de la Comédie…or “L’Oeuf” to the locals. This immense, oblong square paved with cream-colored marble, has a moss covered fountain at its center and cafés on either side. At one end is the Opéra, an ornate nineteenth-century theatre. The other end opens onto the Esplanade, a beautiful tree-lined and flower garden walkway which ends at the Corum Concert Hall — dug into the hillside and topped in pink granite, offering incredible views from t
From the north side of L’Oeuf rue de la Loge and rue Foch carve through the heart of the old city… Montpellier’s own “Haussmannificationizing” in the late 1800s. On either side of the streets, narrow lanes slope away to the surrounding modern boulevards. Few buildings in existence before the 1622 siege survive, but the city’s bourgeoisie quickly made up for the loss, showing off their financial status by building a number of seventeenth and eighteenth century mansions. Known as “Lou Clapas” (rubble), the area is rapidly being restored and gentrified. It’s a stroller’s delight to wander through and come upon little hidden squares like Place St-Roch, Place St-Ravy and Place de la Canourgue.
Place Jean-Jaurès is the focal point for the city’s student life. On most evenings you get the impression that the half of the population not in Place de la Comédie is sitting here and in the adjacent Place du Marché-aux-Fleurs. Close by is the Halles Castellane, a stylish, iron-framed market hall. A short walk from Place Jean-Jaurès, the Hôtel de Varenne, on Place Pétrarque, houses two local history museums of specialized interest. The Musée de Vieux Montpellier focuses on the city’s history. The Musée Fougau, on the top floor, presents a view of the folk history of Languedoc, things Occitan, and is more interesting. On rue Jacques Coeur you’ll find the Musée Languedocien, which houses a mixed collection of Greek, Egyptian, and other antiquities.
On boulevard Henri-IV sits France’s oldest botanical garden, the beautiful– though slightly run-down — Jardin des Plantes. This is where “…the pensive, the careworn and talkers-to-themselves come towards evening.” The words of the poet Paul Valéry. Across the road is the cathedral, with its massive porch and a patchwork of architectural styles from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Inside is a memorial to the bishop of Montpellier who sided with the destitute vine-growers who came to demonstrate against their plight in 1907…and were subsequently fired on by government troops.
Above the cathedral, in the university’s prestigious medical school on rue de l’école-de-Médecine. The Musée Atger, found here, has a notable collection of French and Italian drawings, while the Musée d’Anatomie displays all sorts of, some might say, revolting things preserved in bottles.
South of place de la Comédie stretches the controversial quartier Antigone…a series of postmodern squares and open spaces designed to provide a mix of low-rent housing and offices. The area is aligned along a monumental axis from the place du Nombre-d’Or, through place du Millénaire, to the glassed-in arch of the Hôtel de la Région. It’s more interesting in scale and design than most attempts at urban renewal, but has failed to attract the crowds away from the place de la Comédie. It is often virtually empty. You will find the best central food markets are Halles Castellane, on rue de la Loge, and Laissac, place A. Laissace (open daily 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
Montpellier is renowned for its cultural life as well as its educational insitutions. The city hosts a number of annual festivals. Le Printemps des Comédiens (mid-June to mid-July) is a theatre festival hosting new circus, fairground and theatre groups each season. Montpellier Danse (from the end of June to mid-July) is a festival of dance in existence for over 20 years. There’s also the music festival, Le Festival de Radio-France et de Montpellier, held in the second half of July, that offers audiences famous works performed by artists who are as yet unknown, and forgotten works performed by some of the world’s greatest musicians. The Festival du Cinéma Méditerranéen takes place in the second half of October.
What can Montpellier offer you, as potential home buyers? For anyone interested in a dynamic, city lifestyle in the south of France, it is ideal. The university and its associated schools insure an ongoing infusion of money and youthful exuberance. Easy and fast access from Paris and its proximity to the beaches and other areas of interest in the region make Montpellier a good location for investing in property you can rent out.
The real estate prices in the Montpellier and surrounding areas slumped during the 1990s. It was not until late in the decade that they began to come back. In the last report for second quarter 2002 to second quarter 2003, prices in Montpellier rose 22.1%, the highest in France! Still, real estate prices can be more reasonable than one might think for such a city. For a period there was an increase of development of detached homes and newer apartment buildings. Much of the market these days, though, had been returning to older village homes and apartments in and around the center.
It is much easier to find a good buy in newer construction. For as little as 70-80,000 euro you can buy a one-bedroom apartment with a “terrasse,” or 121,000 euro for a larger two-bedroom. These are not charming old town flats, but are worth considering, especially if you intend to use it as a short-term rental property.
Because of the growth in the market for older properties, bargains are less plentiful. But prices are still reasonable. Old town apartments with south of France charm are occasionally available for less than 100,000 euro. Realistically, you can expect to pay 125,000 and up, depending on the size, the location, and the charm.
The south of France appeals to many foreign buyers. Most seem to want to buy in smaller towns and villages. All well and good, but larger cities should not be overlooked. Montpellier ranks at the top of that list…for its location, its lifestyle, and its real estate market, you’ll find few other large cities that can compete.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Schuyler Hoffman was the first editor of French Property Insider. He now resides in Seattle, Washington and has assumed the post of Special Projects Manager of the Living and Investing in France Conference, March 19 – 21, 2004, San Francisco, California. Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/liveinfrance/LIFhome.html for more information.
THE COMPELLING CATHAR HERITAGE
by Terry Schoen
Photos of the Languedoc-Roussillon region taken by Norm Hartman during an International Living Discovery Tour October 2002.
he area of southwestern France that we know as the Languedoc has inspired popular imagination for centuries. Troubadours, heretics, Knights Templar, aristocratic women whose life styles and freedoms were centuries ahead of their time: Their spirits still inhabit the mountain aeries and fertile valleys of this fabled land. Legends of lost treasure and lost causes permeate the air, tantalizing the curious, whispering questions, withholding answers. An ancient beauty, the Languedoc guards her secrets jealously.
The first recognized troubadour, William IX of Aquitaine, called this region home, as did his granddaughter, Eleanor. Better known to some as the mother of Richard the Lion Hearted, she was a formidable presence in her own right. Eleanor was married first to a king of France and later discarded him to marry a younger man who would become king of England. A patroness of the arts, she established the fabled Courts of Love at which amorous disputes between aristocratic ladies and the knights who paid them homage were judged by assemblies of their peers according to complex rules of conduct. In the halls of the nobles, troubadours sang songs of courtly — and presumably unrequited — love. Aristocratic women, the trobairitz, countered troubadour songs with tensos, tongue-in-cheek musical retorts of their own. The origins and significance of troubadour lyrics, the conventions of courtly love: These are topics vigorously debated by scholars. Few would argue though that the often ambiguous troubadour verses and the legends they’ve inspired have informed Western culture for eight hundred years.
By the 12th century, the Languedoc boasted one of the most highly developed civilizations in Europe. A wealthy and sophisticated society, it was diverse, cosmopolitan, and receptive to learning.
Although blood and suzerainty tied its leading families to both the kings of Aragon to the east and the Capetian rulers of the Ile de France to the north, the Languedoc was an independent region. More than physical distance separated the north and the south. Northern society was feudal and rigorously Catholic. In the Languedoc, the ties between the nobility and their subjects were more tenuous. The south was both culturally and linguistically closer to Aragon than to Paris. A tradesman from the south would need an interpreter to do business in the north. Where the French were almost uniformly orthodox, many southerners were tolerant of religious diversity.
The people of the Languedoc shared a common language and culture, but were politically diverse. The feudal system that bound aristocrats to one another and the people to their lords in most parts of Europe was weak and fragmented in the south. A fierce sense of independence, compounded with a reluctance to bow to any authority, were hallmarks of both the nobility and the wealthy southern burghers. Perhaps more pernicious was the jealousy and distrust that existed among the leading families of the region.
The Good Men and Women
For many years, preachers espousing a form of ethical dualism had walked among the people of the Languedoc. By their living example of humility, purity and charity, they stood in stark contrast to the Catholic clergy of the time. Various forms of the dualist faith they espoused had long been considered insidious heresy by both eastern and western Christian orthodoxy. To the horror of the Catholic hierarchy, this heresy had taken root in the fertile soil of the Languedoc. By the end of the 12th century its proponents had become numerous, and worse from the perspective of an embattled Catholic Church, its clergy were highly respected as Good Men and Women. Too many of the Roman clergy, by contrast, were seen as greedy, lascivious and derelict in their duties. There were churches in the Languedoc where Mass had not been celebrated for decades.
The adherents of the rival creed were variously called Albigoises, after the town of Albi on the River Tarn, or Cathari, from the Greek katharos meaning pure. Others claim that Cathari derives from the German, Ketzer, meaning heretic. The heretics called themselves, simply, good Christians.
They taught that the good God created the realm of the spirit but an inferior deity whom they identified with the God of the Old Testament created the physical world. They taught that human souls were angelic spirits trapped in matter by the trickery of the lesser god. Liberation from an evil world and the cycle of reincarnation would come through personal enlightenment. Man needed no intermediary to communicate with God. Churches, sacraments and the priesthood of the established Church were all superfluous. Their church, the Church of Amor, was antithetical to the Church of Roma. Adding insult to injury from Rome’s perspective, the Cathari included women among its clergy. Both were known as Perfects and the people venerated them for their goodness and simplicity. They owned no property. They abstained from meat and dairy foods. They ate no food that they perceived to be a product of reproduction. They were celibate. The Roman clergy were no match for the Perfects. They railed against the Cathari, but the heresy spread.
The Albigensian Wars
It’s ironic that the most obvious result of the Crusades was the proliferation of trade between East and West. Commerce with the East would introduce much more to the Languedoc than the silks and spices prized by its citizens.
Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire and the center of Eastern Christianity. Perhaps because the Byzantine emperors and hierarchy were experienced in dealing with heresy, reaction to dissidents in their midst– iconoclasts and dualists — differed from that of their Western counterparts. Even though many dualists were military men who guarded Byzantium’s frontiers, the emperors did not hesitate to persecute them and banished them to the Balkans, the western fringes of the empire. Future rulers would have reason to question the wisdom of such decrees.
From the Balkans, dualism spread to the West. While active in northern France, Germany and other parts of Europe, the Perfects found that the relative social and political independence in the Languedoc and parts of northern and central Italy provided a receptive environment for the flowering of their dualist faith. The spread of Catharism from the 12th to the early 14th century created a crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. The threat posed by a well-organized rival movement induced panic in its hierarchy.
The nobles and people of Christendom had long resented the tithes they were required to pay to Rome. The Perfects taught that the Church of Rome had perverted Christ’s message. It was therefore undeserving of obedience or support. To the established hierarchy, the systematic di
version of tithes from their coffers to those of secular rulers, who not only tolerated heretics but challenged the authority of the ecclesiastical overlords, was as threatening as the heresy itself.
Like his predecessors, Pope Innocent III tried persuasion with the southerners. He sent legates, themselves men of the south, to preach to the people and to engage the Perfects in public debates. Many parish priests of that era were barely literate, often knowing little theology and only enough Latin to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments. Ordinary people received much less in the way of religious instruction. The thundering sermons and theological arguments presented by the Pope’s men did little to lure the laity from the teachings of the Perfects. Even that stalwart of orthodoxy, Bernard of Clairvaux, admitted that no sermons were more Christian than those of the Cathari. Little wonder the Roman hierarchy was alarmed by the threat posed to their power by the unruly Languedoc. By the early part of the 13th century, the Roman Church and the orthodox barons of the Ile de France each had pretexts to justify an invasion of the south.
In January 1208, papal legate Peter of Castelnau was murdered as he was leaving the Languedoc. A man of harsh and litigious nature, he aroused hostility wherever he went. He had argued bitterly only the night before with the most powerful aristocrat in the Languedoc, Count Raymond VI of Toulouse. Outraged by the assassination of his legate, Innocent laid the blame for the murder squarely on the shoulders of the notoriously anti-clerical Raymond. The count protested his innocence, and there is reason to believe that he was telling the truth. The legate had many enemies. The count was loved by his people but distrusted by the Lateran. Forever promising to persecute the dissenters among his vassals, but always reluctant to do so, Raymond’s recent arguments with Peter had resulted in excommunication on two occasions. Why would the Count antagonize Rome further by killing one of the Pope’s men? Innocent was in no mood to listen. For him and especially for his advisors, Peter’s death finally provided the provocation they needed to convince the men with the swords that something must be done about the heretics and the southern nobility who protected them. In March, Innocent declared war. King Philip Augustus of France declined to join the northern armies, but allowed his some of his most powerful barons to answer the Pope’s call. The Crusade against the Albigensians had begun.
The invading army consisted of aristocrats and recruits from what is now northern and central France, Flanders, the German provinces and a few fanatics from England. To the land-poor younger sons of the northern nobility, an area so attractive by reason of its commerce, natural resources and proximity to the trade routes of the Mediterranean was an irresistible prize, ripe for the taking. The combined force, granted Papal forgiveness for all sins, as well as remission of all debts, descended on the Languedoc, 40,000 strong. The fighting and carnage would continue for decades.
The south was wealthy but badly fragmented politically. Especially dangerous was the ancient rivalry between the Count of Toulouse and his 24-year-old nephew and nominal vassal, the Trencavel viscount of Béziers, Raymond Roger. Early in 1209, Count Raymond had appealed to his nephew to join with him in presenting a united front against the crusading army. The younger man might have felt that Raymond was guilty of the legate’s murder and therefore to blame for the approaching storm. He might have suspected that his uncle wanted to use the Crusade to weaken his rivals. Whatever his reasoning, the Trencavel viscount refused the offer.
In June of 1209, with the northern army on the march, Raymond VI made a desperate attempt to spare his people and his lands the scourge of war. He professed his loyalty to the Roman Church, promised to correct the errors of which he was accused, and as a pledge for good behavior, he placed seven of his castles in Church custody. He even agreed to a public scourging at the hand of another of the Pope’s legates. Raymond then donned the Crusader’s Cross and reluctantly joined the crusading army for the minimum commitment of forty days.
Raymond Roger Trencavel had no illusions about the practical effects of the count’s reconciliation with the Church. The viscount had as bad a reputation for tolerating heresy as his uncle. The military objective of the crusade had now shifted from the extensive holdings of the Count of Toulouse to the lands of the viscount of Béziers.
The town of Béziers had been essentially autonomous for years. When their bishop, Renaud de Montpeyroux, appealed to its burghers to turn over two hundred twenty-two heretics to ensure the safety of their city, they refused. Béziers was strongly fortified and well provisioned. Its citizens, a tough lot, were confident that they could resist the inevitable attack. Raymond Roger knew that after Béziers, the northern forces would set their sights on Carcassonne. Left with little space for maneuvering, he hurried to his most remote and strongly fortified city. The local Jewish population knew what to expect should the crusaders breach Bézier’s walls. Demonstrating a sense of compassion that would have been unthinkable outside of the Languedoc, Raymond Roger took them with him to Carcassonne.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The second half of this compelling true story of knights, lords and ladies, counts, princes of the Church and dark intrigues continues next week.
REPORTING ON THE PROGRESS OF RUE DE LA HUCHETTE
By Adrian Leeds
The entire International Living Paris Office team joined together Monday night to put the finishing touches on the rue de la Huchette apartment last night and then opened a bottle of champagne (although it wasn’t actually complete until Tuesday afternoon!)
“Au dernier moment,” I met John and Porter in the linens department at the BHV (Le Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville) to find them “buried” in sheets, towels, blankets, pillows, comforters and a variety of other odds and ends needed to finish the furnishing of the apartment (including a fireplace screen, a laundry hamper, lamp shades and throw pillows). The sales person was extremely helpful and polite, insisting on helping us maneuver the dozens of items to the cashier and then down and out of the store.
I will not tell you how much was spent… but I can tell you that linens in France are by far more expensive than in the U.S. and there are no “Bed, Bath and Beyonds” or “Linens and Things” to offer high quality percale at bargain prices. For a rental apartment, it doesn’t pay to “chinch” as it just wears out quicker and then you’re back to the BHV for more. So, the best was bought.
The store was a beehive of Christmas shoppers, so accomplishing this
monumental task without getting run over in the process was a feat. Exiting the store, something set off the alarm and there we were fumbling to show our receipts. The guard waved us on realizing there was too much to check through to be realistic then luckily, a taxi was there just in the nick of time to save us from having to walk across the river to the Latin Quarter loaded down like donkeys.
At the apartment, we had 30 minutes or so to organize the things before IL CEO Bill Bonner arrived to help us celebrate and pour the champagne. Co-author of his recent bestseller “Financial Reckoning Day” and Editorial Director of the Daily Reckoning (http://www.dailyreckoning.com/), Addison Wiggin, joined him. Even our first tenant who moved in yesterday and visiting Parler Paris readers/conference attendees came by, too, for a sip of the bubbly.
The beds were put in place, the furniture placement was haggled over, and Porter lit the fireplace for the first time smoking up the newly placed antique bricks to give it character. What a blaze he made and it was absolutely divine!
EDITOR’S NOTE: To book your stay at rue de la Huchette, visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/rentals/huchette.html or if you’d like to speak with Porter Scott to help you manage your rental apartment or assist you with renovations, you may contact him at email@example.com
“DR. DEREK’S” ARCHITECT’S ADVICE AND SERVICES
If you have basic questions concerning apartment and home renovation, contact our resident expert Derek Bush by visiting http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/services.html
TODAY’S CURRENCY UPDATE
Rates as of 2003.12.17 14:50:40 GMT.
1 U.S. Dollar equals 0.808092 Euros (0.823789 Euro last week)
1 Euro equals 1.23748 U.S. Dollars (1.21390 last week)
1 U.K. Pound equals 1.75950 Euros (1.43511 Euros last week)
1 Euro equals 0.568342 U.K. Pounds (0.696810 Pounds last week)
SEEKING A MORTGAGE IN FRANCE?
The International Living Paris Office can help you secure a mortgage in France with interest rates as low as 3.35%.
* FOR SALE: FPI HOT PROPERTY OF THE WEEK
We are constantly looking at properties for sale to offer to our subscribers only. Each week we will be bringing you one or two properties we believe are especially worth your consideration. As a subscriber, you will have an exclusive first look at these.
Properties sell very quickly in Paris. The best way to find the apartment or home of your dreams is to allow us to do a preliminary search before your arrival so that you visit only the best of the properties and can make a decision quickly.
To learn more about our property search services, visit: http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/propertyconsultation.html
See photos of the properties by visiting the website at http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/currentissue.html
To access any password protected pages, the username is: fpiuser and the password is: paris1802
*** MEZE: LIVING IN THE RAMPARTS
This 160m2 house is built into the ramparts of a medieval village about 5 kms from Meze. The house dates from the end of the 14th-century and retains many period features such as wood beams, leaded windows, vaulted ceilings and fabulous stone staircases. Three bedrooms, fully fitted kitchen and large main living room with fireplace (55m2). On the first floor one room could be used as a library/study and on the second floor, one of the two bedrooms has a mezzanine. The structure has been renovated including a new roof and heating.
Asking Price: 274,500 euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
Serious inquiries email: 18-12-03_Meze_Ramparts
* FPI PROPERTY LISTINGS – SALE
See photos of the properties by visiting the website at http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/currentissue.html To access any password protected pages, the username is: fpiuser and the password is: paris1802
*** PEZENAS: IN THE HISTORIC HEART OF THE TOWN
A house of 120m2 (200m2 including all usable space) in the center of the historic town of Pezenas. The 5-room house is on three floors and has a fully equipped kitchen, living room and 4 bedrooms over a vaulted cellar. In very good condition, this house could be developed into several apartments.
Asking Price: 148,000 euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
Serious inquiries email: 18-12-03_Pezenas
*** MONTPELLIER: BEAUX ARTS TERRACE
An 2-bedroom apartment of 55m2 on the 6th floor with an elevator. Magnificent view from the terrace. Fully fitted kitchen and bathroom. Good condition. 12m2 terrace and 4m2 balcony. Cellar for storage.
Asking Price: 130,540 euros + Finder’s Fee
Serious inquiries email: 18-12-03_Beaux_Arts_Terrace
*** MONTPELLIER: TOWN CENTER
An 80m2 apartment close to the centre of Montpellier. The apartment has a balcony overlooking the city in an elevated position with a lift. 3-bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen. In a private residential area, this light apartment has plenty of storage space and includes a parking space and underground garage.
Asking Price: 200,000 euros + Finder’s Fee
Serious inquiries email: 18-12-03_Town_Center
PARLER PARIS APRES MIDI
NEXT MEETING: NEXT MEETING: December 23th, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. AND EVERY SECOND AND FOURTH TUESDAY OF THE MONTH
This is your opportunity to meet twice a month, often with local
professionals who can answer your Working and Living in France
questions. You are invited to come for drinks and share your questions and comments about what it takes to create a life here, own property and enjoy what France has to offer. It is also an opportunity to
network with other Parler Paris readers.
For a detail description of the past meeting and for more information about Parler Paris Après Midi, visitb http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/apresmidi.html
Don’t forget that with your FPI subscription you are entitled to a discount on the purchase of any Insider Paris Guides. You’ll find details of the guides at http://www.insiderparisguides.com. When ordering, a box will pop up allowing you to enter the following username/password
Order more than one guide at a time and you will receive an additional discount!
RENTING AN APARTMENT IN PARIS OR HAVE AN APARTMENT TO RENT?
If you are seeking to rent a furnished apartment for a week, a month or a year or you have an apartment you wish to rent, contact Adrian Leeds
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- FPI Website: To access any password protected pages, the username is: fpiuser and the password is: paris1802. If your computer utilizes cookies, once you log into a subscriber only section, the login information will remain active for seven days, after which you will have to login again.
- Past issues of FPI are available on the website. You will find the “Past Issues” link on the left under “Subscribers Only” or by going to http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/archives.cfm
- To receive your free French Leaseback Report or the Paris Property Report, click on http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/reports2003.cfm and download the pdf versions.
- Instructions for upcoming conference calls are on the FPI website. You’ll find the link under the “Subscribers Only” section on the left of any page.
- Get In On The Discussion: Care to weigh-in on current HOT topics of discussion on France? Get in on or start your own thread on our bulletin board at http://www.agora-inc.com/forums/index.cfm?cfapp=15
THIS YOUR LAST MINUTE CHANCE TO BE IN PARIS FOR CHRISTMAS
This beautiful luxury one-bedroom apartment (sleeps 4) in the 6th arrondissement…
Near the Jardin de Luxembourg, Eglise Saint-Sulpice, boulevard Raspail, the chic shopping districts of the Sèvres-Babylone and Croix-Rouge (rue du Cherche Midi, rue de Rennes, rue Saint-Placide, rue du Four)…
On rue du Regard, the street where past Prime Minister Lionel j2999pin lives (! — therefore permanent police presence)…
On the third floor (walk up)…
is available for a minimum rental of 5 nights IMMEDIATELY at $125 per night.
To reserve this wonderful apartment NOW, email Porter Scott at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?cc=Adrian@AdrianLeeds.com&subject=Regard_Rental
2 lovely apartments in the 1st arrondissment across the street from the Tuileries Gardens, 3 minutes form the Place Vendome. Available for rent by the week or longer term: 6 months to 1 year. 2-3 bedroom duplex w. 2 baths/ Tuileries view. OR 1-2 bedroom same building. Both are elevator accessible, non-smoking and no pet properties.
p>To check them out and for reservation and contact information go to http://www.youlloveparis.com
Elegant, Tasteful, Calm at Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 6th arrondissement, one bedroom apartment, sleeps 4. Amenities: Fireplace, Phone, Cable TV, Full Kitchen, Microwave, Refrigerator, Cooking Utensils provided, Linens provided, Washer & Dryer, Bathtub with Shower.
http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/rentals/scott.html or contact
Stay in your own 17th-century pied-à-terre in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, by the week or month. Sleeps 4. Newly furnished and redecorated. Totally charming. From $150 per night. Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/rentals/mazarine.html or
contact Porter Scott at Mazarine
Guest Room or Two-Bedroom Apartment Located in a 17th century Le Marais Hotel Particulier, this 70 square meter apartment two-bedroom apartment with lots of light is nicely furnished and is perfect for a single woman in the freshly renovated guest room when owner Adrian Leeds is in or for up to 4 people when she’s traveling.
The Guest Room is offered at $575 per week ($250 deposit required). The Entire Apartment is offered at $875 per week ($350 deposit required — AVAILABLE MOST DATES THE SECOND AND THIRD WEEK OF MARCH.) References are required.
Pictures and more details available at http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/apartments/rentals/leeds.html
For information and reservations email: ABL_Apartment
In the heart of the Marais extremely charming 42 square meter studio with loft. Fireplace, exposed beams on a beautiful 17th century courtyard.
All amenities: telephone, fax, Internet, cable TV, washing machine, fully equipped kitchen, housekeeping once a week, piano allure
Métro: Arts et Métiers 600 euros per week / 2000 per month available year-round
Contact: Alexis Magaro
HELPFUL CONVERSIONS FOR REAL ESTATE
To convert square meters to square feet, multiply 10.763 by 3.281 and for more conversions, refer to:
SUBSCRIBE TO PARLER PARIS
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Copyright 2003, Agora Ireland Publishing & Services Ltd.