(FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)
July 21 , 2005, Paris, France
Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,
The Euro may have seen better days, according to the U.K. Guardian, in an article addressing the solidity of the currency, ever since the "no" vote on the EU constitution referendum. One thing we as property owners can agree to is that regardless of what currency should prevail, property is a real asset valued by the market in any currency.
The point is, that while I’m not holding on to more euros than seems necessary (should the currency crash), I’m certainly holding on to property, which is more likely to increase in value in spite of the currency basis. If this logic is not sound, I invite you readers to enlighten me.
Jean Taquet answers the BIG QUESTION today. It’s the question we get asked most often…Do I need a long stay visa if I plan on staying more than 90 days? As he puts it: "…there is the law and then there is how it is applied by all parties." This is very important for you as non-residents who may own property in France to fully understand. While the law is written a certain way for certain reasons, to simply follow it without good reason, is like jumping off a cliff just because someone told you to. Be sure to read what he has to say before you run to the French consulate to complete the 8 copies of applications for a visa you may not really need or want.
I would venture a guess that the French own more second homes than anyone else in the world. And now, the number of British people who own a second home, either as a holiday home or as an investment, has risen by 10 percent over the past year. Government figures from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister show that in the UK the number of people with two homes is now 320,000. But property purchases abroad now number 177,000, a rise of 14 percent. Spain still remains the most popular accounting for a third of purchases, however a quarter have been bought in France. The figures, described as a conservative estimate, have been released by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott’s department.
Mostly, though, today’s issue is devoted to Provençal living — learn a bit about Provence from Maison de la France, how to see Provence on $50 a day, where to find a great B and B run by an American in the Drome and how to take a tour of Provence via its vineyards.
In the Leaseback News, see a beachside resort in Normandy/Brittany and for Hot Properties, a few in Warm and Friendly Provence to get your dreaming to new heights.
Speaking of beachside, Paris Plage opened today(!), but I’m headed to Eastern Europe for the Dalmatian coast, instead. So, keep in mind that there’s no FPI next week while I’m bronzing on the sand.
Editor, French Property Insider
P.S. We’ve changed the Invest in France Seminar meeting venue to Chez Jenny on boulevard du Temple in the 3rd arrondissement, just a few blocks from the Jardins du Marais hotel. This affords us the luxury of providing a three-course lunch with wine! Plus, when you register, you will get a ONE HOUR FREE CONSULTATION. This offer is open only to our readers…a value of $145!!! You will receive a special voucher to redeem your free hour any time prior to December 31, 2005. To register today while the seats last, click here: http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/liveinfrance/IIF_AUG_2005/IIF_order_form.html or contact Schuyler Hoffman at email@example.com/parlerparis
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Volume III, Issue 29, July 21, 2005
* Jumping Off the Euro Bandwagon
* Take just ONE Day to Make Your France Dream Come True Plus ONE HOUR FREE
* Get Free Tickets to the "Welcome to France Fair"
* Why and When Do You Need a Long Stay Visa?
* The Second Home Market in France Turns Primary
* The Wonders of Provençal Living
* Provence on $50 a Day
* A Great B and B in Provence for Your Next Vacation
* Wine à la Provence
* Long-Term Apartment Rentals
* Leaseback News: At the Beach of Brittany/Normandy
* Expanded Property Consultation and Relocation Solutions
* Today’s Rates of Exchange by Moneycorp Currency Brokers
* Next Parler Paris Après Midi: September 13th
* Hot Property Picks: Provence Pretties
* Getting a Mortgage in France is Easier Than You Think
* Save on Insider Paris Guides
* FPI Subscribers: Things You Need to Know
* Helpful Real Estate Conversions
* Classified Advertising: Holiday in Honduras
Stop the Euro – We May Want to Get Off
By Ashley Seager, The Guardian
As many of us head off on holiday to continental Europe, we will give little thought to the currency we are holding – the euro – except how to calculate easily the price of things abroad and maybe that it is handy to be able to use it anywhere within the 12-nation eurozone.
And the euro notes and coins seem to have settled into general acceptance in the countries where they displaced currencies such as the franc, peseta and mark in 2002. Although many of Europe’s citizens grumbled at perceived price rises that came with the euro, they have just got on with using it, given that it is here to stay. Or is it?
Since the "no" votes in the French and Dutch referendums on the proposed European constitution, and the row over the European budget, that sense of permanence has started to look a little shaky and the question increasingly being discussed is whether countries may leave, or not join, as in the case of the new EU members from eastern Europe, which will adopt the euro between 2007 and 2010, provided they meet the entry criteria.
It was relatively easy to dismiss the calls to leave the euro made by Roberto Maroni, Italy’s welfare minister and a member of the separatist Northern League, in the wake of the referendums last month, though his remarks caused tremors in currency markets around the world and gave British eurosceptic newspapers a field day.
And the European Central Bank, the guardian of interest rates and ultimately, the euro, has held the line and dismissed such talk as "absurd".
Until now, that is. The Bank of France chief, Christian Noyer, who sits on the ECB’s governing council, spooked financial markets this month by admitting that it was possible for a country to leave the euro as each member country is sovereign and so has the right to do as it pleases. He also suggested that any country that ditched the euro might have to leave the EU itself and leaving the euro would be a risky thing to do.
All of which is true but it is nevertheless stunning that such a senior official should openly discuss something that until recently would have been unimaginable. Small wonder, then, that his remarks drove the euro down to its lowest level in 14 months.
Now economists at major banks are starting to take the possibility of euro break-up seriously. An important new study by HSBC economists Robert Prior-Wandesforde and Gwyn Hacche concludes that on its current path, the euro is in danger of blowing apart in a few years unless the bloc gets serious about structural reforms to its economies and to its fiscal rules, the infamous, and dubiously titled stability and growth pact, which unhelpfully prevents governments using fiscal policy to boost their economies.
Indeed, many economies have found themselves having to tighten, rather than loosen, fiscal policy in response to economic slowdown. Attempts at reform have made scant progress.
As a result of all the problems, the HSBC study warns that the path the eurozone is on is simply unsustainable and that the new currency has created severe economic strains that will become more and more extreme if nothing is done.
In short, the theoretical economic advantages of a single currency derive from the absence of nominal exchange rate volatility between the member countries, the lack of exchange transaction costs for companies trading across borders within the zone and the competitive boost that greater price transparency should foster in firms.
The main disadvantage, of course, is the one-size-fits-all interest rate. The ECB obviously has only one interest rate and is targeting an average inflation rate across the zone. It has left its rate at a historically low 2% for the last 25 months. This remains too high for countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Italy but too low for countries such as Spain and Ireland, which have seen property prices boom.
Germany and the Netherlands, says the HSBC study, are rapidly heading into deflation while Italy is facing years of recession. At the same time property bubbles and huge current account deficits have developed in other eurozone countries.
Italy is in the most immediate trouble. Stripped of its ability to let the lira devalue to make up for its lack of competitiveness, it has instead more or less ceased to grow. As wages have continued to rise, many firms have become less and less competitive in world markets. Talk of leaving the euro has therefore emerged, even though Italians were the most europhile of the continent’s populations throughout the 1990s. Only there can I recall seeing street demonstrations in favour of joining the single currency.
Germany, too, faces problems of sluggish growth. As it has very low inflation, its effective real interest rate
is too high. An independent Bundesbank woul
d almost certainly have cut rates lower than 2%.
It isn’t fair, though, to blame the sluggish growth and high unemployment in much of the zone solely on the euro. Many of the problems of inflexible economies and labour markets, and the problem of demographics (the working age population has ceased to grow) were already in existence before the euro was launched.
Nevertheless, in many ways the euro has exacerbated the strains and made the need for reforms of labour, capital and product markets all the more urgent. It is weak economic performance across the zone that has undermined popular as well as political support for the whole project. This is, of course, why Europe’s politicians constantly urge the ECB to cut interest rates further while the ECB counters that the politicians must carry out structural reforms so that economies become more flexible and adjust more quickly to changes in economic circumstances.
Europe’s leaders agreed at a summit in Lisbon five years ago to make sweeping reforms to their economies but progress has been poor, with the possible exception of Germany, where some changes are being pushed through. If the pace of progress does not accelerate, Messrs Hacche and Prior-Wandesforde argue, the political commitment to the whole project will come under severe strain.
Professor Robert Mundell, a Canadian economist famous for his work on single currencies, has long maintained that a currency union needs a high degree of political union to work successfully. But the recent "no" votes from the Dutch and French mean the high point of European political integration may now have passed.
At a recent seminar on the euro’s problems, organized by the investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Professor Paul De Grauwe, a Belgian academic, argued that the euro could well be doomed without political union, because of its structural rigidities and flawed economic management.
The countries that are in economic difficulties could at some point carry out a cost-benefit analysis, he says, and decide to pull out. But he sees a time-frame of 20 years rather than two before any country pulls out. Economists at DKW agree with him.
The HSBC study points to Italy, Germany and the Netherlands as the most likely candidates to leave the euro at some point, in the absence of economic reform and political integration.
Leaving the euro would not be without its costs and these could be significant, especially if a new currency, such as a reborn Italian lira, was devalued. The value of contracts denominated in euros would rise as, probably, would interest rates. There could be enormous practical difficulties involving legal arguments over contracts as well as introducing a new currency and there could be the problem, in Italy’s case, of a government debt default.
It is worth remembering that there were huge legal and practical problems over creating the euro in the first place. But those were overcome. It would therefore be foolish to exclude the possibility that the euro may at some point lose members or even break up altogether.
One thing’s for sure though. Any date for British entry has disappeared into the far distant future and may well never arrive.
FREE one hour consultation with Adrian Leeds when you register with the Invest in France Seminar, August 10, Paris
All Parler Paris readers who register at the Invest in France Seminar on August 10th here in Paris WILL RECEIVE A VOUCHER FOR ONE FREE HOUR OF ONE-ON-ONE CONSULTATION with Adrian Leeds about any working, living or investing in France topic you choose — redeemable between now and December 31, 2005 — a value of $145! Don’t miss your opportunity to learn all you need to learn about finding, purchasing, owning and renting property in France plus an extra bonus consultation.
Special Note: Invest in France Seminar has changed meeting venue to:
39, boulevard du Temple
Inclusive of seminar fees are:
* Coffee Breaks Mid Morning and Mid Afternoon
* Three-Course Lunch with Wine and Coffee
* Closing Kir Cocktail Reception
* Reference Materials
* Parler Paris Canvas Tote Bag with Free Gifts from Paris
Register now at
http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/liveinfrance/IIF_AUG_2005/IIF_home.html or contact Schuyler Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org/parlerparis for information.
Get your tickets to the "Welcome to France Fair" today!
At the Expatica Welcome to France fair you will get the information you need from companies and agencies specialised in expatriate services.
You’ll find information on house hunting, finding a job, immigration and permits, staying long-term, and much more.
Meet the people who make expat life great, including the top clubs and associations, travel agents and sports teams.
Welcome to France
October 16, 2005
Carrousel de Louvre
Tickets are FREE before September 16 if you sign-up online. Click here
Editor’s Note: Adrian Leeds of French Property Insider and John Howell of EuropeLaw.com will be at booth #17 during the fair. Be sure to stop by and say hello!
Jean Taquet’s Practical Answers
Do You Need a
Visa for Staying in Fran
ce More Than 90 Days?
I bought property in Normandy and have been here on a 3-month visitor standard time frame, and was not aware of the EU agreement among most EU countries where the 3-month clock starts ticking across the nation, so to speak. Is there any way you can direct me to NOT have to return Stateside in very short order? For instance, is it possible to locally apply for a carte de séjour or is that only from the U.S.?
I would like to reassure you about your situation. First and the most important thing here is that there is the law and then there is how it is applied by all parties and specially by the police force as well as the immigration officers.
The law states that any foreigner who stays in France for more than 90 days is no longer a tourist and therefore is expected to show French immigration status.
The fiscal law states that should a foreigner spend more than 183 days (6 months and one day) in France then this person should be considered to be a French fiscal resident whether this person has a legal immigration status or not.
This said, the point here is that no police or immigration officer ever cares as such that you have overextended your stay in France. The main reason is that there is NO computer, NO software recording your entrance and/or your exit of France. Without this there is no way for a police officer to know when you came in and when was the last time you left France. Therefore, all the French police force assumes is that your stay in France is legal until proven otherwise.
Now, if an officer finds out that you have overextended your stay in France by a few days or even by a few YEARS — and if this is all you have done to "break the law," then there will be no consequences for you. Now, if you have cheated on French taxes, committed a felony in order to earn your means of living and so on, then and only then does the police officer address your situation.
The bottom line is that you SHOULD NEVER work in France and be paid for that without setting yourself with a legal status prior to starting the job. The second part of your question is more difficult to answer.
You cannot get any residency status in France without getting an immigration visa from the French consulate near your American residence. Therefore you should be planning on acquiring a visa and get ready for that. The entry level immigration visa requires:
1. financial means: an account showing a minimum of USD $22.000 or USD $1,800 per month
2. French lodging (you can be the guest of someone)
3. French health coverage (you can purchase it either in France or in the US)
If you are staying in France because of romantic reasons (and I am not mentioning marriage or even being engaged) — just having a romantic partner (heterosexual or homosexual makes no difference), then I can handle your request. An email is not the right way to address the issue. My experience tells me that whether you qualify for the first or the second scenario, you should consider that your situation is not about if you can have French residency, but, which one do you want to choose from (there are 7 types of visa and therefore residency titles) and there could be a way for you to get complete immigration status without leaving France.
In this latter case, since it is an "out-of-the-closet" procedure, the requirements must be understood very restrictively and you should not start the procedure unless you know that you fully qualify for it and your chances of success are about 100%.
Jean Taquet is a French jurist and associate member of the Delaware Bar Association, specializes in civil, criminal and commercial law. He frequently gives courses about the legal system in France and regularly speaks at the Living in France Conferences in the U.S. and Paris. He is also well known for his informative Q and A columns in past Paris Voice magazines, which can now be purchased in one document as "The Insider Guide to Practical Answers for Living in France."
To subscribe to his monthly newsletter, email Jean Taquet at email@example.com
To make an appointment with Jean Taquet for his consultation services: Phone: Cell: 06.16.81.48.07 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To read this month’s column in it’s entirety, click here: http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/practicalanswers.html
When the Secondary Residence Becomes the Principal Home
In French By Elisabeth Lelogeais SeLoger
Translation by Yolanda Robins
The second home has become a real passion in spite of the serious rise in home prices, and it tends to play a significant part of dual residences more and more.
We used to believe that the traditional second home was left forgotten — too difficult to maintain, too constraining in terms of the number of stays needed "to make it profitable" and uninteresting to the next generation.
We then began to see the construction of more and more residences by the sea, the mountains and in the countryside. They were occupied a few weeks per year by their owners and rented the rest of the time by a commercial lease for nine or eleven years. This formula was invented by Pierre et Vacances in the seventies, then "copied" by others whose leaders are MGM and the Maisons Group of Biarritz. Today this is known at the French Leaseback and now, the two concepts coexist.
There are tra
country homes and those with a modern style, offering a more flexible way of life. In all cases, the success of these two different markets is due to developments in transportation — the TGV (high speed train) and airline companies with fares at low prices. Also, the Internet makes it possible for people to work at home, and the introduction of the 35-hour work week supports long weekends.
Due to this success, the prices continue to increase at a compounded rate. An investigation carried out by the SAFER (Sociétés d’Aménagement Foncier et d’Etablissement Rural) indicates that in 2004, the average price of a country house with land of 8,000 m² or more increased by 14% to 164,000 euros. Bear in mind, that any purchase of a house in the country fully equipped with a small plot of land is subject to the approval of the regional SAFER which can preempt the sale in favor of allocating it to farmers or to leave it to the town citizens. SAFER indicates that over the past seven years, prices have increased by 95% on average. The highest prices, more than 250,000 euros, are in the sunniest areas (the Southwest, Rhone Valley and Provence), areas close to the coast (Manche, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean) or in the areas close to the metropolitan cities (Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux).
To purchase a house for less than 150,000 euros, it is necessary to move towards the northeastern quarter of the hexagon — la Maurienne, le Bocage Angevin, or in the center of Brittany. To purchase land, it is also necessary to pay a "pont d’or" or a small fortune: in one year, the price of the farm land and terrain without homes rose 7% and climbed 65% in seven years. Currently, the average price per hectare (acre) is 4,790 euros with great variances by area — from 1,620 euros in Nantes to 20,360 euros in the Var.
New residences, apartments or houses, built by developers on the coast or near the mountains, also saw a rise in prices. This is mostly due to the land, which adds value, the Littoral Laws, which protect certain sites. In the famous resorts of the Tarentaise, you can purchase nothing for less than 6,500 euros per square meter. In Maurienne, the price is as high as 4,500 euros per square meter. In the regions of the Var, one has to spend more than 6,000 euros per square meter, without a view of the sea. In the gulf of Morbihan, the prices exceed 3,000 euros per square meter and villas or older apartments, that are well situated and of high quality, are even more expensive. The idea of making your secondary residence a principal residence, either full-time or part-time, is not only a way to profit from it, but also to benefit from a better quality of life.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the French publication, La Newsletter de l’Habitat SeLoger, July 2005 issue.
Discover All There is to See and Experience in Provence
The Mediterranean coast, the countryside, the towns filled with art and history, the southern Alps and the large areas of natural beauty — all of these elements make up the many facets of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It is an area of outstanding cultural interest, with its historic and religious sites, museums, parks, gardens, its fortified towns and castles. It is also loved for its fantastic art of living, its gastronomy and restaurants, its vineyards and its traditions which are still very much alive.
Provence has towns full of history, some of the world’s greatest festivals, a preserved, living mountain waiting to be discovered in all seasons, a sun-kissed coastal paradise and all of the joys of life. The charm of Provence is far reaching, even beyond the little perched villages and fields of lavender for which it is famous.
Turquoise or deep blue waters, breathtakingly steep cliffs or sandy beaches, small picturesque ports or seaside resorts — there are many options in Provence for travelers who want to bask in the sunlight and breathe in the fresh sea air. As summer approaches, the port of Saint Tropez comes alive around its numerous cafés and its luxurious yachts. The Calanques conservation area is a unique monument of nature with a limestone massif bordering the sea that extends over 12 miles and is shared by the districts of Marseille and Cassis. The Golden Triangle is a dream archipelago, 19 miles long, with steep cliffs, fine sand beaches and pine and eucalyptus forests. It is a lovely example of a protected area.
Throughout Provence are examples of charming, sunbathed countryside rich in tradition. A turn off a main road could lead to fields of lavender or olive groves, vineyards or orchards, all awe-inspiring landscapes. In the picturesque villages of Provence, travelers will certainly appreciate the shade of the plane trees and the song of the cicadas. Listed as one of the "Most beautiful villages in France," the lofty town of Gordes sits splendidly above the Coulon valley. Due to the upheaval of the Alps, the Gorges of Verdon can reach a depth of 2200 feet. Listed as a historic monument, Les Baux de Provence is one of the most popular places in France and reveals the principal vestiges of the village’s past and an exceptional panorama of the entire region.
From Giono country to the highest peaks of Les Ecrins, Provence’s mountain regions are packed with magnificent natural sites. They have retained their authenticity and living traditions. There are a host of nature activities available in the summer, and a delightful Alpine landscape, snow and sunshine in winter with resorts for every taste. The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie attracts many tourists and is listed as a "Village of Character." Narrow streets and old houses are built by the side of the mountain from which the Rioul stream gushes out. Linked to Risoul, Vars offers skiers the Forêt Blanche, the second largest ski area in the Southern Alps. The resort is ideal for all types of skiing and there are many types of other activities offered daily. About 30 miles to the south of Briançon lies the beautiful Serre-Ponçon Lake, with the view of mountain peaks rising to more than 6500 feet. Stretching from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean sea, the Route des Grandes Alpes meanders for almost 430 miles, providing an excellent way to discover those spo
hat have existed for centuries in the shadow of these high peaks.
Provence On $50 a Day!
By Adrian Leeds
I have a French friend who says that Americans qualify everything by how much it costs (compared to the French) so, it won’t surprise you that even though we had seven glorious days of August in the most romantic part of France (Provence), I still couldn’t help tallying up the expenses and dividing it by the number of days to discover that not only was it the best vacation I had ever had, but also the least expensive one!
One reason that it ranked so high on the list of great vacations is that it took almost as much time to plan it as it took to take it…but it was worth it, every last minute of it…especially at the bargain price of $50 a day.
We spent five sultry days meandering through Provence and two "not-a-moment-to-be-wasted" days of just "getting there" and "getting back" (from and to Paris). Every element pre-planned months in advance managed to work out to almost virtual perfection. No one was more surprised than myself.
The four of us traveling together were myself, my daughter and we each invited one of our closest friends, Dale and Clara. We chose to travel by car after considering the cost of a rental car, the high cost of gas (four times what an American pays for gas), the tolls on the autoroute, and all total that was still less expensive than four traveling by train or plane. Besides, if you’re planning on exploring any part of Provence, a car is absolutely essential.
I highly recommend working with Auto Europe, which represents all the major agencies and can shop around to find the best deal for you. We rented an air-conditioned automatic subcompact for what seemed like a ridiculously little price and picked it up from Avis at the Gare du Lyon. First word of advice: avoid the Gare du Lyon and opt for the Gare du Nord by far simpler and more convenient.
Second word of advice: if you want air-conditioning or automatic gears, rent far in advance and pick up the car in a major city. Neither feature is typical in European cars. When planning the trip, Auto Europe helped estimate our kilometerage based on the kind of car we reserved to budget for gasoline. Then, surfing the Web, I found a site that lists the tolls and other useful autoroute information. Before setting off for the trip, with this information, we were able to estimate our transportation expenses.
The first "leg" of the trip from Paris was designed to be minimal, staying overnight in a chambre d’hôte at the most northern part of Provence. A chambre d’hôte is what in English is called a "bed and breakfast." They are all over France and are normally run by people who enjoy opening their homes to guests and who take pride in restoring an old farmhouse, château or other structure.
While most are not luxurious in the same sense as a four-star hotel, they are comfortable, adequate and usually very reasonably priced. Also, it was much easier to find accommodations for four in one room or adjoining rooms, reducing the expense of two hotel rooms.
Almost all serve continental breakfast (croissants, baguettes, butter, jams, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juice, etc.) included in the price of the stay and many provide sumptuous dinners for a small additional fee. All the chambres d’hôtes we stayed in during the trip were found on the Internet, although I would have to admit that some sites functioned better than others and those on the Web were booking quickly.
That first night in Provence was spent at a beautifully renovated old silk factory, just at the border between Drome and Vaucluse outside the Château de Grignan (Madame de Sevigné died there in 1696). We had two beautifully decorated king-sized rooms on a floor all to ourselves, sharing one bath. In Grignan, we dined in a crêperie under the clock tower of the château, topping it off with a banana, chocolate and whipped crème crêpe dressed with kiwi and cherries. It was the first of many occasions that I was compelled to ask "are we having fun yet?" We had simply died and gone to heaven.
The next two days we traveled first south towards the Alpilles, then in a circle and sometimes diagonally, stopping to visit both the picturesque villages as well as some of the more major cities of Provence: Avignon, Le Mas de la Curade St.-Rémy-de-Provence and Arles. Two nights we stayed at a 17th-century farmhouse-turned-chambres d’hôtes south of Les Baux with a pool, a fishing pond and a hen house.
The location was perfectly situated between all the cities we wanted to visit. The room we shared was large and well appointed one flight up a stone colimaçon (spiral staircase), with a view of the pond and the garden. Madame, our hostess, was amiable and accommodating. To our amazement, we discovered some of the other guests were our Paris Le Marais neighbors and "thanks" to the rude awakening of roosters crowing early each morning, we never slept past 7 a.m.
More advice: during the month of August, the major cities of Provence are to be avoided. While beautiful, charming and filled with cultural attractions, we found them crowded, hot and difficult to manage with a car, where finding legal places to park is a nightmare and traffic jams abound. In fact, we took the decision to leave Vaison la Romaine without seeing one Roman ruin after spending 45 minutes maneuvering through a traffic tie-up leading to the weekly market.
ace="Verdana">In Aix-en-Provence, a verbal "altercation" with another driver over a parking spot was later "rewarded" with a parking ticket stuck to the windshield. The advantages to the cities, however, are the amenities you won’t find in the small towns such as cyber cafés, American Express offices, museums and laundromats.
In Avignon, hot and bright with not a cloud in the sky, we visited a special exhibition at the Palais des Papes that intellectually not one of us could understand. I hope that we were the only ones who were so mentally disabled. In Arles, we sneaked into the ancient Roman amphitheater just before closing long enough for a brief view of the arena and to take snap shots of the interior structure.
In Aix-en-Provence, where the Cours Mirabeau was inaccessible to cars due to a complete face-lift underway, we found respite in a cyber café and then later in a courtyard café for a soda float (if you want one in France, order the Coke and the ice cream apart then make it for yourself and expect your waiter to stare at you with wonder and disgust!).
We especially enjoyed the open-air markets which move from town to town. St.-Rémy-de-Provence has the area’s most famous and is likely the largest assortment of Provençal products. My favorite stalls, absolute feasts for the eyes, are of spices in open bowls, mounds of olives of dozens of different varieties, hand-woven baskets of all shapes, sizes and colors and scented soaps, body care lotions and fragrances.
Provençal tomatoes are firy red, juicy and sweet. You can buy garlic bulbs and red peppers on braids to hang in your kitchen. To dress up your dining room, don’t leave without a set of printed tablecloths, place mats and matching napkins in Provençal yellows, blues, greens, oranges. It is impossible to leave empty handed.
All in all, however, we found the smaller villages to be the most beautiful and agreeable: La Fontaine de Vaucluse (the source of the Sorgue River), Eygalières with it’s evening festival and parade, Nyons known for its olive oil and tapenades, Carpentras with the oldest synagogue in France, built in the 14th century and still accommodating a congregation.
Our last two days in Provence we drove east from the Alpilles to the Luberon. We were very pleasantly surprised to find the chambres d’hôtes we had reserved to be in one of the prettiest villages of the Luberon — Lourmarin. It boasts of the 15th century Château de Lourmarin, which is the burial spot of writers Albert Camus and Henri Bosco, and has a two-star Michelin restaurant, Moulin de Lourmarin.
The traveling open-air market comes to Lourmarin every week, enabling us to buy any goodies we had missed in St.-Remy-de-Provence. From this home base, we were in direct route to the hill towns of the Luberon, my favorite picturesque part of Provence: Bonnieux, Oppède-le-Vieux, Ménerbes, Gordes, Roussillon.
In Bonnieux, I was the only one willing to climb all the steps to the top terrace where a 12th-century church still stands. Angelic singing coming from within the church could be heard clearly from just outside the door and a small crowd had gathered to listen intently.
Cars weren’t allowed into Oppède-le-Vieux, so we parked in the lot and trekked up the snake path in the deadly heat. The girls rested under the shade of a tree while my friend and I forged up the hill into the tiny town. We never got much further than the café in the plaza (one of the two!) exhausted from the heat and the climb. If we hadn’t been demoralized by the heat, we would have climbed up to the summit where a 13th-century church still stands and affords a magnificent view of the Coulon Valley, the plateau of the Vaucluse and the village of Ménerbes.
Ménerbes was made famous by Peter Mayle in his tale titled A Year in Provence, the trials and tribulations of an Englishman and his wife who have set out to retire to an old stone Provençal home in "peace." Tourists flock here now, but the charm remains and we lunched on big beautiful salads in an open terraced restaurant with a view of the surrounding hills and farms.
Steep stair-stepped narrow streets make up the center of the city of Gordes, leading to breathtaking views of the cliffs and environs. Boutiques of Provençal products abound. Tourism has made its mark on Gordes. My fondest memory there is of the tiny wood-carved tiger cat I found as a gift for a friend and the refreshing ice cream cone I had on a shady terrace of a café overlooking the renaissance château.
In Roussillon, the red and orange colors of the buildings of ochre stone are breathtakingly rich and vibrant. Ochre is a mixture of sand and oxidized iron used as a base for paints. This is France’s most important region for the production of ochre and yields annually about 3,000 tons. The perfect gift from Roussillon is a palette of paints for a budding artist. I took a ton of photos then came down with a 24-hour virus. Great timing.
Our last morning in Provence, we high-tailed it to Nice to catch the ferry to Corsica…and that’s another story entirely!
We clocked ten hours to Paris with just a few pit-stops along the way, back to the cool, gray weather, the majestic Eiffel Tower and the calm of a Sunday night in August. We had enough time and energy to return the car to the Gare de Lyon, get a bite to eat in a brasserie and reflect on what already seemed like a dream before landing in our own sweet beds.
Domaine Le Bois des Dames Bed & Breakfast
A lovely small hotel in the Drôme Provençal, 15 minutes from the historical
village of Chantemerle-les-Grignan with its magnificent château. It is surrounded by lavender fields, vineyards, olive trees and sunflowers, plus there are many Provençal markets and well-known villages and towns in the area. It is a great place for walking and biking, with a beautiful view from the swimming pool area and a golf course nearby.
There is a private area on the property for barbeques, and picnic basket lunches can be prepared upon request. Bikes and field games are available, with just a small rental fee for the bikes. If you would like to learn the popular French game of pétanque, we have a "terrain de boules." There is live music some nights in the courtyard for your enjoyment. Artist and painter Maureen McCormick joins us every Thursday and offers a painting class for those who are interested.
We serve dinner each night the courtyard…many regional foods, fresh summer salads, goat cheese, olives and full-bodied Provençal wine.
Apartments and studios are available, with both half board and full board options. The rooms have a pleasant, colorful décor with private bathrooms. The hotel is also very suitable for groups, conferences, seminars and weddings.
The Oldest Wine Region in France Invites Travelers to Discover Wine Tourism à la Provençal
Provence is a region predominantly known for its dry rosés. But don’t let the unfaltering rosé conducive climate overshadow the splendor of the robust reds that Provence has to offer. Full-bodied red wines are produced in the Côte du Rhone regions of Vacqueyras, Gigondas, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, as well as in the Bandol region of the Var adjacent the Mediterranean Sea. The sweet Muscat whites from Beaumes-de-Venice as well as the "liquid gold" dry whites from Cassis are a staple to any Mediterranean meal and demonstrate the diverse wine culture of Provence.
Here are some Provençal wine highlights:
Château de Saint-Martin
The Château de Saint-Martin, which produces cru class wines (high-quality classification given to the best vineyards or growth of distinction) is an ancient priory which was transformed into a Provençal farmhouse in the 17th century, with a vast cellar dating from the 11th century. On this exceptional site guests can enjoy golf, Formula 1 racing, and donkey rides. But the fun doesn’t have to go down with the sun — the Château de Saint-Martin has three charming rooms on the premises for overnight guests.
Château de Saint-Martin
Route des Arcs – 83470 Taradeau (Pays Dracénois)
Tel: +33 188.8.131.52.76
Fax: +33 184.108.40.206.77
The Château Roubine is home to the festival of wine and the vine: The Art of Fine Wines. At this ancient Château, guests will be welcomed by English-speaking staff before attending the famous wine festival which is located near the Cistercian abbey Le Thoronet.
Château de Berne
The Château de Berne is a 4 star luxury hotel situated in the heart of a 500 acre park where guests will be welcomed by English-speaking staff and enchanted by the castle, the private chapel dating from the 18th century. As well, the unique open air theatrical island-like stage provides a forum to showcase incredible plays and jazz concerts. Château de Berne’s heart beats in time to the rhythm of the vines that have been the soul of this magnificent place since 1750. The Château is home to all stages of wine-making from the harvest, through the aging process, in oak casks and barrels, to the bottle. Guests can enjoy this joy first-hand as the Château is always proud and happy to take individuals and groups on guided tours to demonstrate the care they exercise in developing their traditional and prestigious vintages. Château de Berne offers themed evenings and days, a school of wine and gastronomy, perfume making classes, as well as welcoming the occasional flea market.
Le Château Sainte Rosaline
At the Château Saint Rosaline, guests can experience French gardens, concerts, antique shows and wine all in the same locale. This Château is an ancient abbey from the 11th century that has been transformed into a beautiful farmhouse with a French park where jazz concerts and antique shows entertain visitors.
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LEASEBACK NEWS FROM IMOINVEST
COLOMBAGES DU GARDEN CLUB
France, Brittany / Normandy, Branville
One Bedroom 31m² to 33m² Euros 127,500 to Euros 144,800
Two Bedrooms 45m² to 50m² Euros 176,000 to Euros 215,000
Three Bedrooms 53m² to 55m² Euros
217,000 to Euros 252,000
GUARANTEED RENTAL INCOME UP TO: 4.00%
Colombages du Garden Club is located near fantastic beach side resorts such as Deauville, Trouville and the picturesque port of Honfleur. Experience the breathtaking coastline of Normandy stretching for over 350 miles, 900,000 acres of unspoiled forest, authentic marinas and splendid golf courses. Branville is undoubtedly one of the most charming villages of the La Hague, Normandy region. Ideally situated, this residence offers the incomparable beauty of the Pays d’Auge.
Nestled within a 25-acre estate, Residence Colombages offers charming houses reminiscent of traditional Norman Hamlets. Situated on the slope of a valley, the cottages benefit from unrestricted views of the hills and river. High quality furnishings and fixtures create luxurious living spaces that are stylish, yet understated. Enjoy the tropical hothouse heated to 30°C all year round, a children’s pool, whirlpool baths and covered pool. Take advantage of the high quality facilities such as a full service restaurant, bar and health spa.
This is an excellent investment opportunity, offering full ownership without management responsibilities such as maintenance, finding guests or collecting rent. Normandy attracts international visitors, not only for its beautiful countryside and coastline, but also for its fascinating history. Unforgettable chateaux and D-Day beaches guarantee high tourist demand. Reporting an approximate 10.8% price increase in 2003, the Normandy region offers promising investment potential.
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TODAY’S CURRENCY UPDATE
Visit the FPI Web site and click on the link on the left panel "Click Here for Currency Convertor by Moneycorp Global Money Services" for up to the minute conversions of all major currencies.
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Charts http://www.Moneycorp.co.uk/members/charts.asp The charts below are updated every ten seconds.
The prices shown are "inter bank" exchange rates and are not the rates that you will be offered by Moneycorp. Your rate will be determined by the amount of currency that you are buying. Please speak with an Moneycorp dealer or your consultant for a live quotation.
Parler Paris Après-Midi
NEXT MEETING: September 13, 2005 AND EVERY SECOND TUESDAY OF THE MONTH, 3
p.m. to 5 p.m.
This is your opportunity to meet every 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.
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HOT PROPERTY PICKS: Provence Pretties
Each week French Property Insider features a range of properties which we believe are on the market at the time of writing. These properties are featured in order to give readers a sample of what is currently available and a working example of prices being asked in various regions of France and districts of Paris.
As we are not a real estate agency. These properties do not constitute a sales listing. For those readers seriously interested in finding property in Paris or France. you can retain our services to do the whole thing for you. For more information, visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/propertyconsultation.html
*** Provence, Tourrettes sur Loup, 4 room house, approx. 110 m²
Idyllic setting! Beautiful treed lot with a mountain view and sea water swimming pool. Quiet, good quality construction, with a garage and basement.
Asking Price: 152,466 Euros + 2.5% Finder’s Fee
*** Provence, Grasse, Villa, approx. 95 m²
Villa with a beautiful, wide view in a calm area. Double living room of 40m² opens on to a terrace and garden with a private swimming pool. Summer kitchen, 3 bedrooms, cellar and garage.
Asking Price: 325,000 Euros + 2.5% Finder’s Fee
*** Provence, Aix en Provence, 4 room house, approx. 124m²
Exclusive! This charming four room villa offers a beautiful, unobstructed view. The swimming pool is surrounded by a country garden. Only 5 minutes from Lauris, this property has excellent access to the urban and commercial areas of Aix.
Asking Price: 480,000 Euros + 2.5% Finder’s Fee
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HELPFUL CONVERSIONS FOR REAL ESTATE
1 square meter = 10.7639104 square feet
1 hectare = 2.4710538 acres
For more conversions, refer to: http://www.onlineconversion.com/
== HOLIDAY IN HONDURAS==
Our good friend Barbara Perriello of Agora Travel just got back from Roatan, Honduras – where she accompanied more "buyers" than on any other trip she’s taken there in the last 13 years. That’s why she’s going back immediately — August 27 – September 3, 2005, in fact. And she’s hoping you’ll join her.
For details: Call Agora Travel at 800.926.6575 or 561.243.2572 or read more by clicking here: http://www.agoratravel.com/bayislands/e/
Monte Carlo Seaside — a dream view of Monaco and the sea!
Located at the french border of the principality of Monaco in Roquebrune Cap Martin — this big one bedroom flat of 600 square-feet with a terrace can easily accommodate one couple + one extra adult on a convertible sofa. Fully equiped kitchen, marble bathroom, private cark park, security doors, pure silence, fresh sea breeze, direct access to the quiet private beach at 200 meters, 5 minutes to Monte Carlo train station or bus stop, easy access from Nice international airport and Monte Carlo train station.
Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/rentals/pfmontecarlo.html for lots more beautiful photos and to book your stay contact FPI_Monte-Carlo and ask for the French Property Insider Special Offer.
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