The New Orleans-French Connection
Pontalba Apartments, New Orleans
(FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)
French Property Insider
February 17, 2005
Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,
Just back from a wild carnival ride down to New Orleans, we have lots to report on…
After a fun-filled carnival celebration during several days of Mardi Gras parades and partying à la Nouvelle Orléans style, we settled down to business.
The Living and Investing in France Conference was a huge success where we all learned a lot while having lots of fun together in “The Big Easy.” Scroll down for a full report and pick up some of the tidbits of our presenters’ expertise. There are five more conferences of this kind scheduled for 2005 both in Paris and the U.S., so now’s your chance to mark your calendar for the one that best fits your needs and schedule.
Moneycorp currency brokers provides us with a way to hedge our bets against a fluctuating rate of exchange and a new way of calculating the rates at any given moment. Further down, we advise on how to best open a bank account in France — no easy task for foreigners. ParisMarais starts a newsletter specifically for Le Marais you will surely want to subscribe to and Leslie Ellen Ray tells her tales of life in Provence along with her fabulous photos.
Two recent articles worth a reprint will peak your interest — luxury loft living in Paris proves to be profitable and how an effort to alleviate smoke in Paris restaurants goes “up in smoke.”
All this plus a listing of hot Paris loft properties will whet your appetite for more.
Editor, French Property Insider
P.S. We can easily put you in touch with any of the professionals who present at the conferences or with whom we work and recommend. Write me for more information about our one-on-one consultation services at Adrian@AdrianLeeds.com
Volume III, Issue 7, February 17, 2005
In this issue:
* Looking Back at the Conference
* Upcoming Conferences: Reserve Now
* Being Aware of Currency Risk
* Today’s Rates of Exchange by Moneycorp
* Subscribe to the New ParisMarais Newsletter
* How to Open a French Bank Account
* A Picture of Provence
* Luxury Loft Living
* Non-Smoking in Paris Restaurants is “Up in Smoke?”
* Hot Paris Property Picks: Loft Living
* Classified Advertising: Low Season Deals on Paris Vacation Apartments
Reporting on the Living and Investing in France Conference
February 11 -13, 2005, New Orleans
By Adrian Leeds
I caught so many beads thrown from the floats Mardi Gras day that we added them to the “Goodie Bags” at last weekend’s Living and Investing in France Conference in New Orleans. During the opening remarks, I asked the attendees to drape at least one pair around their necks so that while I read their reasons for participating (in 25 words or less), a sense of camaraderie would permeate the room.
It was an easy task — never before have we had such a homogeneous and convivial group, almost all with the same goals in mind — to find a home in France they could enjoy for part of the year, rent out the rest to mostly cover the mortgage and expenses and then later to retire to.
The conference opened with a light-hearted look at the New Orleans/French Connection by actress and comedian Adriana Bate (did you know that the Baroness Pontalba designed her famous apartments adjacent to Jackson Square based upon the Palais Royal and the Place des Vosges of Paris!?) and young Jean Xavier Brager from the French Consulate with his Southern French accent (from Marseille!) charmed them all into thinking learn French would be “du gateau!”
The conversation turned more serious when Laurence Daurignac and John Howell from Europe Law in London took center stage to explain how to have the right to live and work in France, a complicated and tedious subject that often touches on the American value of honesty — how many Americans are in France illegally we wondered? They call it the “golden passport” — we can do no wrong and illegals are overlooked, as long as they pay their taxes!
Cocktails the wrap up the first afternoon were a perfect way to network with the other attendees. By the time all the wine was drunk and the cheese and crackers eaten, we had made lots of new friends.
Saturday was a long and arduous day beginning with minimizing your tax liability with Marcell Felipe, international tax advisor from Miami. John Howell went through what it takes to start a new business in France before he and Laurence attacked the heart of the conference — how to buy and own property in France. In detail were discussions of the advantages of buying property in the name of an “LLC”(U.S. company) or “SCI”(French property company), changing your marital regime to community property (“tontine”) or other structures that would minimize inheritance and capital gains taxes.
After lunch, Property Search Consultant, Yolanda Robins, who had a surprise from more than a dozen American friends who showed up in Paris for her birthday, gave her presentation by audio feed direct from Paris. With me on the PowerPoint keys and Yolanda giving the verbal presentation, she outlined the best ways to find property in Paris and the best neighborhoods to buy in, plus showed a variety of available properties in the key areas of the city. She had us drooling over a few very luxurious apartments we all wish we could afford.
The rest of the afternoon was spent discussing property in France from an investment point of view with John Howell and Laurence Daurignac along with Claude Nédérovique from France For Rent and Paris Luxury Rentals. There is still no doubt that even with a weak dollar, when you minimize the loss in the exchange rate by maximizing your mortgage at today’s low interest rates, taking even interest-only loans, with the current appreciation of property Paris is experiencing of more than 10% annually, and year-round rental potential, an investment in a property in Paris is more sound than most, especially than the stock market (which isn’t nearly as much fun!). Claude professed the importance of purchasing a property in the right locations and furnishing it in luxury and with good taste to maximize the occupancy rate and therefore insuring a better investment.
On that note, we headed down Decatur Street for a five-course New Orleans Creole dinner at Tujague’s, the city’s second oldest restaurant. Several local residents joined us for the festivities and we celebrated our new friends over Shrimp Remoulade, Brisket of Beef, Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffée, Lamb Shank with Red Beans and Rice and Bread Pudding. Yum!
Our final day of conference opened with Ruth Mastron’s (“Au Contraire: Figuring Out the French”) funny and poignant account of why and how the French are so culturally different with pointers on how we can cross the cultural divide more easily. Then, Valerie Guillet, Director of the French-American Chamber of Commerce, stepped in for the President, Damien Regnard, who was called to France suddenly on personal affairs, spoke about how organizations such as ours can assist those wanting to start a business in France.
Moneycorp guys Doug Johnson and Mark Rickard then tied it up together with their program on reducing the risk of currency exchange by “Forward Buying” or “Spot Buying” at a particular rate of exchange — a way of minimizing your loss in the exchange when transferring large sums of money. New to our conference, this topic is now of prime interest.
We concluded the conference with an hour-and-a-half long panel discussion opening the floor to questions about anything directed to any one of the presenters. This was the attendees’ chance to wrap-up all they learned. It was a great way of insuring we had covered every topic.
Attendee evaluations came in loud and clear with ratings of 4′s and 5′s (on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 the lowest, 5 the highest) given to almost all the presenters:
“As a marketing and real estate professional, I am very impressed and look forward to working with professionals of this caliber. Another worthwhile day — well done.”
“Great first day! Very excited about what lies ahead.”
“This was the most valuable conference I have attended. Well organized, delivered and the content above average.”
“All excellent! Excellent! Excellent! Thank you.”
We packed up our projector, computer and headed out for dinner in the Faubourg Marigny knowing we had done our jobs and helped fulfill some dreams, as without a doubt, we’ll be seeing many of these same smiling faces on this side of the Atlantic sometime in the very near future.
UPCOMING LIVING IN FRANCE CONFERENCES
|Working and Living in France
May 20 – 22, 2005
Les Jardins du Marais
|Invest in France One-Day Seminar
October 4, 2005
New York City
|Invest in France
December 28, 2005
Les Jardins du Marais
|Invest in France
Les Jardins du Marais
|Living and Investing in France
October 7 – 9, 2005
San Francisco, California
Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf
Reservations and information:
If you’d like to know more about the seminar or reserve your place, email Schuyler Hoffman.
U.S. OFFICE 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time
Schuyler Hoffman, Special Projects Manager
PARIS OFFICE 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Paris Time
From the U.S. or Canada
+1 (310) 427-7589
de U.S. or Canada
+33 (0) 18.104.22.168.59
What is Currency Risk?
If you are buying a property overseas, migrating to a new country or buying an asset abroad such as a car or a yacht, you will need to change your money into the appropriate currency. Moneycorp team of experienced consultants can listen to your personal circumstances and suggest various ways of purchasing currency in order to minimize the currency risk on your purchase.
A European property priced at 200,000 Euros would have cost £127,443 in December 2002 but increased in cost to £133,334 by February 2003 (£6000 or 4.7% increase in just 2 months). This is a classic example of avoidable currency risk (if the Euros had been bought or reserved in December, the cost would have been fixed and the currency risk eliminated).
The Moneycorp service is free (they make their money on the exchange rate when you do a currency deal) they don’t charge to send money abroad. At the very least you should compare Moneycorp exchange rates with those offered by your bank, even if you don’t plan to use them!
Doug Johnson and Mark Rickard at Moneycorp illustrated their currency exchange protection services at the Living and Investing in France Conference by showing an example of how you can hedge your bets against fluctuating exchange rates.
Let’s take the example of the cost of buying 100,000 Euro property:
You make an offer on the property October 11th when 100,000 Euros is worth $124,000. The payment is due December 6th when the dollar has weakened and therefore ends up costing $134,000.
Offer on Property October 11th — $124,000
Payment due December 6th — $134,000
Your choice is to “Spot Buy” the total on October 11th @ $1.24 = $124,000 or do a “Forward Buy” October 11th for December 6th at a fixed rate of 1.2425 = $124,250 plus a 2 month premium of $250.
TODAY’S CURRENCY UPDATE
Moneycorp Adds New Currency Protection Service to FPI
Visit the FPI Web site and click on the link on the left panel “Currency Convertor by Moneycorp Global Money Services” for up to the minute conversions of all major currencies.
Compare currency values easily and quickly by visiting:
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.
NEW PARISMARAIS NEWSLETTER
Starting next month, Parler Paris will contribute to a new monthly newsletter: “parismarais”– Le Marais has so much to enjoy that it really deserves its own specific newsletter You can subscribe in advance online by visiting http://www.parismarais.com
Opening a French Bank Account
by Adrian Leeds
In the U.S., you can walk into almost any bank and find a smiling Account Manager behind a desk just waiting for you to plop down in a comfy seat and say “I’d like to open an account, please.” The more money you wish to open the account with, the broader the smile on his or her face. Within about 10 minutes, the appropriate documents are presented, you’ve signed on the dotted lines, an account number and temporary checks are handed over to you. You’re in business.
Such is not the case in France.
When I first moved to France, by sheer coincidence, a French friend in the U.S. connected us with her friend, an Account Manager at CIC (http://www.cic.fr/ ), who amazingly worked at the branch one block from our new rental apartment. This connection along with our new long-stay visas, opened accounts for us just about as quickly, along with Carte Bleue debit cards and free checks.
I had no idea at the time what privileged folks we were — it all seemed
so standard and normal. Now I realize that without that connection, opening accounts would have been much more difficult…they don’t hand them over to just anyone regardless of how much money you wish to deposit. Remember, everything you do in France is based on an established relationship — so the banks want to know with whom they are doing business, just like any other establishment — and believe it or not, money DOESN’T talk.
If you have are legally residing in France with a Carte de Séjour or Carte de Résident, then you prove your intention to stay in France and will have a much easier time opening an account at a commercial bank. If you are a property owner, but not a legal resident, the challenge is more difficult, but not impossible. If you are not a property owner nor a legal resident, then opening an account in next to impossible.
To open an account in a French commercial bank, I make the following recommendations:
First, it is best to bank with the branch nearest your Paris or France home. It is important to establish a relationship with the staff there to make facilitating your financial needs easier and simpler. If you have a contact person or friend at a bank, this is the best way to get an account. The second best way is if a friend already banking there can introduce you. If neither of these is possible, you’re on your own…
To start, go into the bank and very politely ask if they will grant you a future appointment with an account agent. They will ask the nature of the visit and you will explain your reasons for wanting an account. It is very important to let them know at this point that you will be a new resident of the neighborhood and compliment them on what you’ve heard about their bank and services, plus how you want to do business in your own special “quartier.” Lay on the charm, show them lots of respect and humble yourself. If you don’t get this right, you won’t get the appointment!
Once you have the appointment and you meet your new account agent, don’t forget to lay on the charm all over again. Every drop of relationship-building will make your life easier. You can open an account without one centime to put in it! Remember, it’s not how much money you have, but what kind of person you are and if they will want to do business with you.
Don’t forget to ask for your checks, a Carte Bleue debit card, if the bank has Internet banking capability, if you want a safety deposit box — do they offer this?, if they can give you “cash advances” using your U.S. debit card in the bank for higher amounts than the ATM allows (a great way to draw money from your U.S. accounts) and several “RIB’S” (Relevé d’Identité Bancaire slips) that enable your utilities bills to be automatically debited. The printed checks take about one week to get, and usually they are free. Be sure you provide them with the correct name and address to print on the checks. The Carte Bleue may take a little longer and will be mailed to you with a PIN (personal identification number).
The following is a list of France’s most popular commercial banks. Look for the one nearest you, ask your friends which they recommend and with which they can be of assistance and then you’re on your way to being an account holder in France.
COMMERCIAL FRENCH BANKS
Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP Paribas)
Crédit Commercial de France (CCF)
Crédit Industriel et Commercial (CIC)
Caisse Epargne Credit Agricole Credit Foncier Credit Lyonnais Crédit Municipal de Paris Société Générale Special note: One final solution, if all else fails, is to open an account with an international bank such as Barclay’s or Citibank. BNP Paribas owns Bank of the West, which has an international department in its San Francisco branch. Contact Pierre Videau at firstname.lastname@example.org to open an account.
Crédit Municipal de Paris
Special note: One final solution, if all else fails, is to open an account with an international bank such as Barclay’s or Citibank. BNP Paribas owns Bank of the West, which has an international department in its San Francisco branch. Contact Pierre Videau at email@example.com to open an account.
SEEKING A MORTGAGE IN FRANCE?
Let us help you secure a mortgage in France with interest rates as low as 3.35%. Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/loan for more information
PROPERTY SEARCH SERVICES
Let French Property Insider expert property consultants find your dream home in France for you. We consult with you to help you make the best decisions, ferret out the finest properties to meet your criteria, schedule the visits and accompany you, negotiate with the agencies and owners, recommend the notaires and other professionals, schedule the signings and oversee the purchase with you from start to finish! You could never do it so easily on your own. Let us take the time and effort off your hands.
For more information, visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/propertyconsultation.html or contact Yolanda Robins, Adrian@AdrianLeeds.com
="285" height="204" hspace="0" align="left"/>Picture Postcards from Provence
Photos and Story By Leslie Ellen Ray
="285" height="204" hspace="0" align="left"/>Picture Postcards from Provence
The buttery light in the evenings illustrates why the artists have come to this place for years — it is truly exquisite! In the apricot-colored sunset, I have just returned from Aix, where, when I boarded the bus at La Rotonde and looked up to see the magnificent fountain out the window, I had to bite my tongue not to allow the tears in my throat to make it into public view. A little voice made itself known from deep within, reminding me: “You live here now!” Although I do not feel as though I am fooling anyone into thinking I am anything other than a foreigner, I am a foreigner who is making a home in France. It was a good decision…for many reasons…some shared in the following:
Bittersweet was the parting with my sister at the airport in Minneapolis, just as it had been with the friends I was able to see in San Diego. Although both of us are excited for this new adventure (my sister also has her own love affair with France going) the distance will be felt as well as the expense in international calls!
After a short layover in Amsterdam, the flight to Marseilles landed and all passengers (a very international group we were: a French couple who were returning from Africa with a newly adopted baby, a young man returning from three months in Taiwan bringing his Chinese girlfriend home to meet the family, several of middle eastern descent, and several other French along with myself and two other Americans) deplaned onto the tarmac and were bussed to the terminal where we entered a facility that reminded me of the airport in Hawaii in the 50¹s – much smaller operations than we tend to see now – certainly in the major metropolitan areas. No customs, no passport stamping – just straight to baggage and that was it! Whew!
Joann, my new landlady, had offered ahead of time to pick me up and was waiting for me. So with two large carts we rolled my baggage to the car. (I was later to learn that she was very surprised to see the amount of baggage I had! She did not reveal that at all from her welcoming expression!)
She had prepared lunch for me back at her house: a lovely green salad with fresh garden tomatoes and vinaigrette, delicious chicken sautéed with onions, garlic, courgettes (zucchini) tomatoes and herbes de provence, a bit of bread and cheese and a glass of local wine and I was reminded once again why I had made this move!
I slept well and at 5 a.m. had arisen in the darkness to observe my first lavender dawn in Provence. It just felt like the most appropriate way to begin. Each dawn so filled with promise that it seemed a fitting ritual for this auspicious move! Cypress and olive trees were silhouetted against the rapidly changing backdrop of color and the surrounding herbs throughout the garden began releasing their luscious perfumes in the early dew. Yet another welcoming experience to savor. And so I did.
As the days move toward afternoon, it really heats up! What could be better on a hot, sticky end of summer day than a dip in the cool blue of the Mediterranean? And so, to the seashore we went. Joanne (a lovely character, deserving an entry all to herself) is an ocean lover, like myself. Carry le Rouet was the beach we headed to, about 20 or so minutes from the house, through pine-covered granite hills. It was too early to be very crowded on this last weekend before school commences and all ages, shapes and sizes were represented.
(Note to self: Not a facelift, liposuction or breast augmentation among the female population that I could see (and yes, I checked, for as a woman “of a certain age” I look to older women’s bodies to measure myself and try to predict my own anatomical future. Doesn’t every woman do that on some level with other women??!) At any rate, no matter the shape, size, gravitational pull of the earth, these women all appeared to be living in their skins with a confidence I do not see as often among women back in the old “hood” and the sexual energy seemed still strong in a graceful way – go figure. This topic deserves continued observation.)
It felt good to dip into the water: cool, salty and the color of my sisters eyes. My first dip into “the Med” and definitely not my last. Even if not much for bodysurfing, for a relaxed swim in mild repetitive swells, it was lovely.
This particular night would be my first official “candle light supper in Provence” so I stopped into a market for a few things and the boulangerie next door to purchase a baguette. The woman behind the counter dismissed the line-up of breads in the basket (that had been there all day, no doubt) to hand me one right off of the baking rack, still warm. How romantic am I? I even found the way she laid it across the square of paper and twisted the opposing corners together creating a “handhold” of sorts to be quite enchanting! With my fresh baguette tucked into the top of my market basket, (feeling quite “the local” and wondering silently what people ever found offensive about the French) I aimed for the bus stop to catch the bus back to the flat, a trip of less than eight minutes by bus, but a full 40-45 minutes walking, and in the direction to go home, it is mostly uphill. The first bus I boarded was the wrong bus for my stop. The female bus driver kindly dropped me a stop down, told me which bus I was to look for and instructed me about explaining my already stamped ticket to the next driver and assured me that all should go well.
A very familiar insecurity and timidity began to descend upon me, reminding me of feeling paralyzed to step up to the window of a burger stand to order when I was 5 so my 3 year old sister stepped up and ordered for both of us (a dynamic that exists even today.)
A part of what triggered this current paralysis was that although I had checked my own schedule and the schedule posted at the stop, I was not seeing any busses fitting either of them. Indeed, there were plenty of busses passing, but just not the ones I needed! I was later to learn that not all of the busses sport the numbers of the line as listed in the schedule. Some only post the
destination points at either end of the line and passengers must just know what line to take without the number. Being new to this mode of transportation altogether, I had no idea which line was mine as a result of this aforementioned syndrome of paralysis and a lack of information on the bus marquis. I ended up allowing two busses that would have worked to pass me by due to my uncertainty and the lack of knowledge for how one must “hail” a bus to stop as one would a cab in NYC. Drivers do not simply stop if they see a passenger at “their” designated stop – the passenger must somehow signal the driver to stop. Ahhhh, now I know how to do it. But it would be ONE AND A HALF HOURS before I would step onto a bus that would take me the less-than-eight-minutes-down-the-road to my stop. With less bulk collected, I may have made the walk back in spite of the hills and the heat. But, I was taking a different lesson this time, the mastery of which will be tested the next time I take the bus!
A simple dinner on the terrace of split pea soup, a baguette with butter, and a salad with tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette, a bit of cheese and some olives was made quite special by Joanne’s contribution of a small pot of delicious homemade pâté de canard (duck liver pâté), made with fresh duck liver that she couldn’t pass up at the market earlier, wild mushrooms, egg yolks (hard-cooked), a few chives and a bit of salt. Thickly spread on pieces of that fresh baguette incredible!
Savoring the mild evening and the meal, we learned a bit more about one another and although separated by a generation or more, we have some significant things in common. I suspect we are both enjoying this connection as it unfolds.
On a few mornings after arriving, I allowed myself the distinct and very unusual (for me) pleasure of sleeping quite late as I believe it was more than jet lag from which I was recovering. I greeted those days with a pot of French press, a bit of baguette with butter (oh! And let me tell you about the Normandy butter!!) and my favorite confiture, abricôt!
I have even navigated a SUNDAY as it stretched out in front of me like an empty road in the desert. I know from previous trips that Sunday is typically a very quiet day in France (in fact, some of my loneliest times have been on Sundays in France when the streets are empty, busses are barely running, shops are closed and restaurants are on uncertain schedules) I used this particular Sunday to read (a pleasure I have felt quite deprived of while working so hard!) and continue the “nesting” process that was underway. A ham sandwich, on the remainder of that baguette, a few olives and a glass of wine and by the end of the day, this was feeling like a perfect Sunday.
One on occasion recently, Joanne had kindly invited me to accompany her to the Carrefour, a huge supermarket chain in France. There is one in the next village of Le Milles. There is a collection of smaller boutiques on the interior periphery (an enclosed “strip mall” of sorts, including a few clothing boutiques, Dr. Scholl’s, sporting goods, boulangerie, fast food, pharmacy, etc.) Carts can be obtained outside, as with markets in the US, but in order to take a cart out of the line of carts, one must insert a token or one euro in the chain lock on the handle to release it from the line. When returned to the line at the end of shopping, the token or euro is returned. Good idea, huh?
Stepping into the Carrefour was a bit overwhelming for me as it is like any large supermarket chain in the US combined with a Costco-like section carrying everything from small appliances and electronics to auto supplies and garden items. Throw in a large part of the merchandise carried in the Target stores and you get the picture. We agreed to meet at the end of our separate shopping adventures at the front and off we went. Although I had a list, what I really wanted to do was walk up and down each and every aisle just taking note of what was available. I could have happily spent hours there. But because I was on a time schedule, I followed my list as best I could with only a few excursions into the aisles that interested me the most. For example, there is an entire section of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, including a huge pan of fresh paella, presented as one might find at the deli section in Jimbo’s or Ralph’s in California. The cheese section is multiple aisles and cases. The chickens in the butcher case still have their feet! (The pre-packaged variety are also available and as anonymous as ever. Without the feet, it’s easy to forget that life was given for a meal.) The various olive oils, in numerous sizes, take up an entire length of aisle just by themselves! And, although the actual bottled selection of spices is relatively small compared to what one might find in a US supermarket, (the biggest selection of spices is to be found at the open air market!) there is an entire section with a stunning variety of salts that extends from top shelf to floor, just for salt! I am in heaven! For the most part, wines are very inexpensive ranging from under $2 to $5 for some very good wines. Pricier ones are also available, but what’s the point unless you’re an oenophile studying varietals for your master sommelier exams?!
My first laundry in the foreign-looking washing machine in the kitchen was accomplished. I was hanging sweet smelling linens out on the line under the pines and the shimmering olive trees and I was at once taken back to hanging laundry as a child with my mother, fully conscious of the difference in this particular moment: I am in France! (Oh yeah, and my mother is 10,000 miles away!)
Another first run: with the oven this time (stove and oven here are on propane tanks filled as necessary). When I was staying here last, I couldn’t figure out how to get the oven lighted. My success this time resulted in a lovely roasted chicken with crispy herbed and buttered skin (the inside being moist perfection) and roasted new potatoes and garlic. Topped off with steamed haricots verte (yes, with more butter!) and I think it’s clear: I’m a pretty happy camper so far.
I know there are days ahead of me where I’ll probably wonder how I got myself into this mess and what to do to navigate the decision in the moment, but even anticipating the inevitable difficult times that lurk, I am happy. Very few moments go by that I do not look around at the green promises forming on the olive tree outside my garden door, or the hear the unique and persistent wail of a police vehicle in the streets of Aix, or catch the delicious blend of pungent scents at the outdoor market, or loo
k directly into the eyes of one of the lions surrounding that magnificent fountain at La Rotonde that I don’t stop for a second and take it in: I did it! I live in France!
On another morning, I made my way over to the outdoor market at the Palais de Justice in Aix and collected a few items of fresh produce from the stands offering the best looking specimens (a stock will be made from last night’s chicken bones!), small sachets of aromatic peppercorns, sun dried tomatoes, a basket of strawberries (not the Sequoia type, but the small, French variety – deep red and fragrant), a few courgettes (zucchinis) for a tart I want to make and with a basket filled with items, I had still not spent my budgeted amount for this market trip – yeah me!
I wandered some of the back streets I had explored in previous trips looking for the art store I had stumbled upon quite by accident at one time. The local supplier for all the artists and art students it seems, it is packed with interesting stuff including the sketchbooks that I use as writing journals. I had left mine behind as, in addition to paring down unnecessary weight in my bags, it was time to start a brand new book. As all shops do in France, it had just closed for a two-hour lunch something I am still not used to so it will be something to look forward to one morning in the future. A quick Perrier to quench my thirst (I understand why the French are known to drink so much water they are walking around a lot which works up quite a thirst!) and I headed off to the bus. I’m getting much better at this bus thing!
Some cold roasted chicken and some fresh tomatoes on a bit of baguette will taste good tonight. How lucky am I?!
The appointment at the local bank in the village of Luynes went swimmingly! Entering many of the banks here is a bit different: Bank customers press a button on the outside door to be “buzzed in” to the space between the doors – another button is then pushed by the customer wishing to enter and, once again, after a brief wait, one is buzzed in, the door lock releases and the door is free to be opened, allowing the waiting customer to enter the bank for business. The same process is repeated to exit – lots of button pressing and buzzing going on for bank business. A bit different from the bank-in-a-supermarket one finds in the states! And as result of my appointment, I now possess a checking account at Société Générale – yippppeeeee!
It’s not exactly “la vida loca” but life in France is good!
Paris Property Boom Turns Artists’ Garrets Into Luxury Lofts
By Patricia Brett
Reprint from the International Herald Tribune
Friday, January 28, 2005, Patricia Brett
The photos in the real estate agent’s window had been taken during the summer, when the gated, cobbled alley was a riot of green. Now, in the dead of winter and under a threatening sky, this patch of the Bastille district was much less picturesque, but it still had a definite charm.
Michel Chabard, an agent with MH Conseil Immobilier, was showing a duplex loft midway along the alley. It had light parquet floors, white painted beams and west-facing windows along most of the alley side of the open-plan kitchen, large living room and small master bedroom. The windows, not quite high enough for a scenic view, looked out on a Paris roofscape of chimney pots across the alley.
A mezzanine ran along the windowless back wall of the living room, but the slope of the roof made it impossible to stand upright in at least one-third of the area. A flight of stairs led to two small bedrooms and a narrow office. Five skylights cut into the roof offered a view of the open sky.
The potential buyer found the apartment charming but overpriced at Euros 975,000, or $1.26 million. “There is neither a toilet nor a bath on the upper floor,” she said, “and the kitchen needs to be remodeled. They’re asking about Euros 150,000 too much for what is, after all, a fifth- floor walk-up.”
The owner, a successful artist, bought the loft in 1980, several years before the new opera house was built in the Place de la Bastille and the area’s bar and club scene exploded. Increasingly disturbed by neighborhood noise, and encouraged by local boasts of high prices, the artist decided to sell – and insisted that his asking price was the minimum needed to buy something comparable.
He may be right.
Real estate sale prices in Paris have soared about 60 percent in the past five years, propelled by a wide range of social and economic factors. While agents, bankers and notaries expect prices to rise more slowly or even stabilize in the next six months, they expect that continued high demand will keep them from declining.
Michel Mouillart, a professor of real estate economy at the Sorbonne and consultant to the Fédération Nationale des Agents Immobiliers, or FNAIM, a real estate trade association, attributes Paris’s hot housing market to a number of factors.
High rents, 30-year mortgages and historically low interest rates of around 5 percent have increased the pool of potential buyers, he said. (Rents have risen an average of 3 percent to 4 percent a year since 2000, compared with averages of less than 1 percent for several previous years.)
Many current homeowners want to buy something bigger and better and are willing to look at a new neighborhood if they can get an advantageous deal, said Emmanuel Ducasse, director of real estate inspections for the Paris region at Crédit Foncier, a main provider of homeowner loans in France.
Also, prices in several neighborhoods have been profoundly affected by the entry into the market of young professionals with large incomes, including artists and others involved in media or creative cyberindustries like animation and computer games, Ducasse said.
These businesses have often set themselves up in areas already colonized by dot-com companies – originally cheap neighborhoods, now cutting-edge chic, clustered on the east side of Paris along the Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondi
ssement, around Oberkampf in the 11th, in Menilmontant in the 20th or just outside the city limits in Montreuil. Their employees, seeking to live near their work, have pushed prices up faster in those districts and in central Paris than in the city’s traditional luxury neighborhoods to the west.
In fact, prices in the central Marais quarter and the adjoining 11th arrondissement jumped nearly 40 percent between 2000 and 2003, according to the French Chamber of Notaries. That was 15 percent more than the rise recorded in the tony 7th arrondissement over the same period.
Unlike past booms fueled by speculators seeking quick profits, however, this market is being driven by individuals who want to buy and owners who recognize a strong market, Jean-Claude Vie of the Office Immobilier de Paris said.
A similar opinion was strongly voiced by Mouillart and René Pallincourt, president of the FNAIM, at a recent news conference. All three buttressed their point by saying that, while institutional investors were selling large numbers of quality rental apartments, some of which they had owned for a century, these sales differed from the get-rich-quick ideas that characterized the price boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
There is no buying and selling of property to “make a fast buck” this time around, Pallincourt said.
One thing that professionals and the public agree upon, though, is that the dizzy rise in Paris real estate prices has to stop.
Prices have reached the “limit of the upper limits of the very affluent,” François Carré of the French Chamber of Notaries said. And properties coming onto the market are moving more slowly than they were six to nine months ago.
But are the prices all that outrageous?
The Paris market still is much cheaper than those in London, Madrid and Barcelona, so it seems affordable to foreigners, even if not to the French, Chabard said.
And even though the weak dollar may deter some moderately affluent American buyers, the rich will always find the money for a luxury penthouse with a terrace view of the Eiffel Tower if they really want it, he said.
Paris Cigarette Ban Goes Up In Smoke
Jon Henley in Paris
Wednesday February 16, 2005
Reprint from The Guardian
They are a familiar sight in New York, Dublin and Rome. But it seems huddled groups of smokers puffing away outside bars and restaurants stand little chance of appearing on the streets of Paris.
The city council was yesterday forced to acknowledge that a voluntary scheme launched three months ago aimed at encouraging Paris’s 12,452 cafes, bistros and brasseries to declare themselves smoke-free zones had been adopted by barely 30.
“It’s early days yet,” a spokeswoman said. “The idea is good and I’m sure it will catch on eventually. I think bars and restaurants just had other things to think about over Christmas and the new year.”
But in a nation of unrepentant cigarette-lovers, others are less sure.
“It’s a daft idea and it was doomed to failure from the start,” Yves Bougeard of the catering industry union UMIH, told Le Parisien. “France’s existing laws already force bars and restaurants to provide no-smoking areas. Surely that’s enough? How can you ask customers to stop smoking when 43% of establishments in Paris also sell cigarettes?”
Under the scheme, devised by the city’s deputy mayor in charge of public health, Alain Lhostis, cafes and restaurants can apply for a sticker issued by the Mairie de Paris bearing the words: Ici, c’est 100% sans tabac .
Last month Rome became the latest city to in effect ban smoking in public, outlawing tobacco in all indoor spaces unless they have separate smoking areas with continuous floor-to-ceiling walls and ventilation systems.
Offending smokers can be fined Euros 275 (£190), and proprietors up to Euros 2,000 if they fail to call the police when customers refuse to put out their cigarettes. The Irish Republic successfully introduced similar, though less stringent, legislation nearly a year ago, while smoking bans are common across the US.
The French remain a nation of dedicated smokers: according to the latest government figures, 32.2% of all 26- to 75-year-olds are regular consumers and the figure rises to 36.7% in the 12 to 25 age group. In the face of customer pressure, laws on smoking in public places are widely ignored in most cafes and restaurants.
Proprietors argue that banning smoking would amount to commercial suicide.
HOT PARIS PROPERTY PICKS: LOFT LIVING
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
*** Loft/atelier/surface 1 Room
75001 Paris 1st Proximity: Métro Palais Royal/Louvre Rivoli/Les Halles
Asking Price: 450,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
Loft on a courtyard on the 2nd floor with
redone new with an office at the entry,
one room of 14 m², an open space of 40 m², a toilet and corner café.
*** Loft/atelier/surface 1 Room
75002 Paris 2nd Proximity: Coeur de Montorgueil
Asking Price: 340,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
In a magnificent building of the 18th-century of pierre de taille, loft redone by an architect comprising a living room, equipped kitchen, bedroom on a mezzanine, shower with toilet, parquet flooring, fireplace, exposed wood beams, high ceilings.
*** Loft/atelier/surface 2 Rooms
75003 Paris 3rd
Asking Price: 310,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
Close to Square du Temple in a beautiful old building, renovated to 56m² (plus 15m² of mezzanine) in a duplex with high ceilings. Sunny and quiet.
*** Loft/atelier/surface 3 Rooms
Asking Price: 720,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
Marais close to rue du Trésor et Vieille du Temple, superb apartment, sunny with unobstructed views, high ceilings, fireplace, exposed wood beams, large bedroom on the courtyard, bath, shower, kitchen. Lots of character for a small building of the 17th-century, in good condition and well decorated, original and well situated in an animated and historical quartier.
*** Loft/atelier/surface 1 Room
75005 Paris 5th Proximity: Port Royal
Asking Price: 660,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
Loft de 120,20m² on the ground floor of a beautiful building of 1910.
Double exposure on a quiet street and courtyard. Entirely redone new with magnificent parquet flooring and a large window.
75006 Paris 6th Proximity: Carrefour croix rouge
Asking Price: 840,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
Atelier de 90m² commercial on the ground floor with a pretty paved courtyeard and glass high ceiling.
75007 Paris 7th
Asking Price: 1,700 000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
In a building of the 17th-century, on the ground floor on a paved courtyard, a loft of 200 M² with 50 M² de heated cellar, glass roofs and lots of possibilities. Charming and original.
PARLER PARIS APRES MIDI
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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/
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