Bathing Beauties on the
"New" and "Old" Rivieras
In Dubrovnik, Croatia, Photo by Erica Leeds
(FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY)
August 4 , 2005, Paris, France
Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,
You may recall that last week FPI hiatus was due to our summer vacation in Croatia — ten adventure-filled days in (somewhat) uncharted Eastern Europe. Our discoveries there have resulted in the lead article featuring ten lessons learned during our ten days on the Dalmatian Coast.
While this has little to do with French property, it has lots to do with vacation property — Eastern Europe being now considered an emerging market and valuable investment property as prices are still affordable, but clearly on the rise. Tourism is booming. A recent New York Times article (July 17, 2005 by Steve Dougherty) called it the "New Riviera."
My own experience found it more like "not ready for prime time" — but that’s because an American living in Paris (like me) is as spoiled as one can get. France simply can’t be beat as a tourist destination. It has everything one would want for culture, fun and relaxation — no wonder both Paris and France are still the world’s number one vacation spot, an estimated 25 million visitors to Paris and close to 80 million visitors to France annually.
Relative to seashore locations, in today’s issue we highlight Côte d’Azur properties on the "old Riviera" for sale and a naturist Leaseback property on the Mediterranean in Cap d’Agde of Languedoc-Roussillon! For retirees, be sure to read about the inroads made recently for seniors and limited-mobility tourists visiting France.
Very importantly to those of you concerned about the possibility of a bust to the current real estate boom is an article from USA today suggesting that a bust is not likely considering the current conditions, making real estate purchase in France a stable investment. And interestingly, Paul Krugman in the New York Times compares life in the US for the average family with life in France and finds the French happier if not wealthier.
It’s a lesson I have certainly learned.
Editor, French Property Insider
Email: [email protected]
P.S. The Invest in France Seminar meeting venue will be held at Chez Jenny on boulevard du Temple in the 3rd arrondissement, just a few blocks from the Jardins du Marais hotel…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 before it’s too late, click here:
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 protected]/parlerparis
Volume III, Issue 29, July 21, 2005
In this issue:
* Tips for Planning Your Own Croatian Adventure
* France Friendly to Physically Challenged
* Just ONE Day to Your France Dream…Plus Get ONE HOUR FREE with Adrian Leeds
* "Welcome to France Fair" — FREE Tickets Available!
* European Real Estate Boom
* Quality of Life Question: France vs. U.S.
* Long-Term Apartment Rentals
* Leaseback News: Get Back to "Nature" at Le Cap d’Agde
* Complete Property Consultation and Relocation Solutions
* Today’s Rates of Exchange by Moneycorp Currency Brokers
* Next Parler Paris Après Midi: September 13th
* Hot Property Picks: Côte d’Azur Comforts
* Need a Mortgage in France? We Can Help!
* Save on Insider Paris Guides
* FPI Subscribers: Things You Need to Know
* Helpful Real Estate Conversions
* Classified Advertising: Monte Carlo Seaside Apartment Rental
Ten Lessons to a Great Ten-Day Croatian Vacation
By Adrian Leeds
Photos by Adrian Leeds and Erica Leeds
France has perfected the art of civilization to such a fine degree that matching it is tough for an other destination. Don’t get me wrong. Our ten-day adventure in Croatia was, on a scale of 1 to 10, an 8.5 fabulous vacation.
als were to go somewhere we had never been, where we didn’t know the language and where every minute would be an adventure. Warmth and beach time were high priorities. A friend suggested Croatia — what we thought would be the perfect solution.
It was an aggressive plan: ten days, five different overnight destinations, three ferry rides with 1500 kilometers of driving. I mapped it out months in advance with a Croatian travel agency and booked inexpensive B and B’s all the way.
The itinerary: Fly to Zagreb, stay overnights: Zadar 1 night, Hvar 2 nights, Korcula 4 nights, Dubrovnik 2 nights, Zagreb 1 night, fly back to Paris.
With no Internet and no computer, but lots of time to reflect, I penned pages and pages on a pad of paper, kept notes in a small diary and discussed observations with my daughter. Together we shot more than 700 photos of the miles and miles of jagged coastline shimmering with blue, blue waters, the ancient cities with their stone and red tile roofed houses lining narrow cobblestoned streets, natural waterfalls to crystal clear pools of fish in the national parks, the pink skies behind stunning sunsets, both pebble and sandy beaches riddled with bathing beauties and took photos of each other we could use as "blackmail material."
History looms at every corner. The cities are sculptural works of art. The coastlines are breathtaking. The islands are jewels in deep blue shimmering pools. The landscape is dramatic. While wallowing in all that Croatia had to offer, we learned some important lessons with which I share with you now.
Lesson One: Use a Croatian travel agency to make your plans. Vladimir at Marina Vacances (10, rue Oberkampf, 75011 Paris, +33 (0) 1.43.38.03.32, [email protected]) was very helpful in suggesting where to go for a successful trip. I wouldn’t have known where to begin without quite a bit of studying up, but in about an hour with a native Croatian, we had the ten days planned and accommodations booked all the way.
Lesson Two: Stay in Bed and Breakfasts. The B&B business in Croatia is booming. Signs for "Apartmani," "Zimmer" and "Sobe" (rooms) are everywhere. People stand in central tourist points with signs promoting their guest rooms. You could go with no plans and easily find accommodations along the way…inexpensively. Accommodations averaged about $100 per night for double rooms. If you were to consider owning property in Croatia for your own vacation home, opening it up to guests would offset the expense, much like owning an apartment in Paris for vacation rental. The season is more defined, however, and the peak is July to August, naturally.
B&B owners are the best people to get to know. They love having you as guests, will tell you where to go, what to do and where the best restaurants are. This is true when you travel in France, too. On this trip, some were more luxurious than others, but in every case, the owners were helpful and hospitable. When we first arrived in Lumbarda on the island of Korcula, Mr. Markovino made a point to sit me down at the table in the cool shade of his trellis-covered patio to take out a map of the city and island, show me the best beaches and how to get to them and where to go have the best lunch. He was, of course, right about every suggestion and we were appreciative.
If you have the smarts to buy now while property is still relatively inexpensive and definitely on the rise, you can make your investment with the help of John Howell & Co. International Attorneys. John Howell is the co-sponsor of our Invest in France conferences and seminars with offices in London. He maintains a special office in Dubrovnik to assist interested investors. For more information, contact Kreso Buntic, +385 (0) 20 332 355, or contact John Howell & Co. at [email protected], http://www.EuropeLaw.com, +44 (0) 20 7420 0400.
Lesson Three: Rent the smallest car you can with air conditioning (if you’re traveling in the summer). We were pleased when they upgraded us to a five-door Opel Astra, but quickly discovered it was too large and unwieldy to maneuver the narrow stone wall lined "streets" and roads without damaging the bumpers. I’m paying for not refusing the upgrade gift…damages incurred to the car (some my fault, some not!) have been estimated to more than the cost of the trip itself! (Part of Lesson Three is also to be sure you pay for the car with a credit card that provides collision insurance — as lucky for me, Visa will pay for the expense once I turn in a completed claim.)
I have found that http://www.AutoEurope.com, a rental car broker, consistently provides the best rates. Our rental was with EuropCar and cost approximately $36 per day. Gasoline is expensive — about $5 a gallon and air conditioning eats more. Diesel fuel will be more economical, so ask for a Diesel-run car if you can. Tolls on the new highway are expensive, too — the cost to drive from Split to Zagreb was $26. The road is beautiful, however, with rest stops, gas stations and restaurants all along the way.
Croatian drivers are aggressive and speedy. One B&B owner remarked that I should be happy to have a larger, safer car! Gas stations are not so readily found as are car washes. I can’t explain this phenomena, but for every one gas station, there are five car washes.
The morning we left our hotel in Zagreb, we broke into uncontrollable hysterics with one l
ook at our silver colored rental car. At once we finally understood why there was a car wash on every corner of Croatia. During the night, thousands of birds must have dined on blueberries and sweet fruits…then, as if targeting us specifically — the spoiled and curious travelers — rained the remains all over the vehicle, totally obliterating its originally shiny tone and making it impossible to see through the windshield and windows. You can bet we headed straight for the car wash before heading for the airport, laughing all the way there.
Lesson Four: If you choose to avoid driving altogether, fly to Dubrovnik and ferry to the islands or other port cities of Zadar, Split, Ploce and others. Jadrolinija is one of the major ferry lines. Schedules can be found online at http://www.jadrolinija.hr Plan your travels carefully so as not to miss the ferries and arrive early during peak seasons to insure your place. If you take a car on the ferries, the larger the car, the more expensive the voyage, so this is another reason to rent a small car!
Lesson Five: The beaches along the Dalmatian coast are stunningly beautiful, but mostly rocky, so bring or buy good beach shoes (they can be purchased everywhere). Not all beaches will be equipped with chairs and umbrellas to rent so buy rafts to lie on (and float on, of course) and take lots of high SPF suntan lotion (we found the stores carried mostly low SPF!).
Lesson Six: The beaches were not as universally topless as they are in France, Spain or Italy, but the very young children were mostly running around nude. No one seemed to care. There are naturist beaches and camps all along the coasts and on the islands, a destination for naturism for five decades — the first European tourist country to open its doors to naturists. For more information, visit the national tourist board site at http://www.croatia.hr
Lesson Seven: Bring your own lunch to the beach. Croatians know how to drink (vodka and rum is cheaper than fruit juice), but they haven’t mastered the art of dining like the French. Cafés are everywhere, but serve nothing more than drinks — sometimes an occasional cake or ice cream. Restaurants are rarer and can be very, very good, but they all have identical menus and serve exactly the same dishes — grilled fish and meats, mixed salads, spaghetti and risotto. The breads are mostly pasty and tasteless. The restaurants at the beaches are particularly basic and can make a simple case of indigestion seem like a blessing! Avoid these at all costs.
Lesson Eight: Wines on the other hand, are quite good. America’s most powerful and robust of all red wines, the ever popular Zinfandel has Croatia as its place of origin. Called in Croatian "Mali plavac" or "Plavac mali," Zinfandel comes from the limited geographic area in South Croatia. I became particularly found of a light white fruity wine reminiscent of an Italian Frascati. And wine is inexpensive as are the hard liquors — about the same price as soda.
Lesson Nine: The Croatians are the salt of the earth and uncomplicated. The young men are Adonis look-alikes (I fell in love every ten seconds) and the young women are well endowed and shapely (and became green with envy). As they aged, the pizza diets told tall tales and we didn’t have to wonder where their good looks went. They were always pleasant, but a bit coarse and unrefined, compared to our French friends who thrive on "politesse." They usually have a good command of English and sometimes speak French or Italian. Menus are often written in several languages. The number one word to learn in Croatian is "Hvala" (thank you).
Lesson Ten: Learn some of the history before you go! I felt like a particular idiot when I didn’t know the relationship of Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) to the island of Korcula. He was a medieval Venetian merchant, though he is more prominent as a world renowned writer and traveler and was amongst the first Europeans to travel the famous Silk Road trade route, stretching from the Middle East to China. Polo is reputed to have been born in Korcula itself, although evidence to support this thesis is at best sketchy. Notwithstanding, Korcula town still boasts Marco Polo’s alleged house of birth and his name appears on street signs, restaurant names, hotel names and just about anything needing an identity.
At the end of a ten-day adventure, having learned ten important lessons along the way, I pondered whether a Croatian vacation was in fact the perfect solution to accomplishing our goals. And yes, unequivocably so, but coming back to Paris is Home Sweet Home.
A Country Accessible to All
Travel hints for seniors and limited-mobility tourists visiting France…
By Derek Guzmàn
Originally published in France Guide 2005
Don’t let a cane, walker, or wheelchair keep you from discovering France. The country has blossomed into a place where people with limited mobility can visit, explore, discover and dream! Take in Paris from high above, for example. Ride the funiculaire up to the Sacré-Coeur, or ascend the Eiffel Tower, or enjoy a meal as you survey the city from the 56th floor of the Tour Montparnasse.
"Wait a minute," you might say. "Is all this really possible in a wheelchair?"
You bet! So is strolling through Napoleon I’s apartment at Fontainebleau castle, enjoying outdoor markets, festivals and parades and easing into the relaxed atmosphere of urban parks.
Regardless of your mobility level, it’s all at your fingertips!
"Tourisme & Handicap"
In Paris and its environs, work has been done to make tourists with mobility problems feel welcome. The year 2001 saw the launch of the "Tourisme & Handicap" program, a wide-ranging effort to make Paris and the surrounding Ile-de-France region, and France in general, more accessible to all — not only people with impaired mobility, but also those who are mentally, visually and hearing impaired. Over 125 sites in Paris and Ile-de-France alone, including cultural attractions, hotels and restaurants, now carry the "Tourisme & Handicap" Label.
Go Where You Want
Work was recently completed on Paris’s first wheelchair-accessible Métro line, No. 14, which runs through the center of the city, covering a long stretch of tourist areas. All stations are equipped with street-to-platform elevators, car doors open automatically, and there’s no gap between car and platform. Many of Paris’s in-town suburban (RER) stations are also accessible, but with the help of an attendant.
Covering the tourist areas throughout the city, the vehicles of 24 Parisian bus lines are now accessible to wheelchair users. All city buses have priority seating for elderly and mobility-impaired individuals.
In addition, Taxis G7 and Ptitcar offer ramp-equipped, wheelchair-accessible taxi service and van excursions, respectively.
Beyond the city limits, RER and regional (Transilien) train systems reach well into the Ile-de-France region. Many of their stations are equipped with street-to-platform elevators. Even further afield, the French national railway (SNCF) easily accommodates wheelchairs, including on high-speed trains (TGVs), the Eurostar (to London), and the Thalys (to Brussels/Amsterdam). Please stop by the station’s Accueil (Reception) office prior to departure.
Seniors are honored in France, and discounts on most public transportation are available to people 60 and over. Air France offers reduced fares on flights within France (subject to availability); the SNCF has its "Carte Senior" and "Découverte" senior discounts, and Rail Europe offers a "SeniorPass."
For a disabled person and his/her attendant, entry is free to national museums, including the Louvre and the Château de Versailles.
Room and Board
At all hotels, call ahead and ask about room access: wide elevators, wide doors, and accommodations on the ground floor. Some chain hotels such as Mercure, Novotel and Campanile, have special-offer wheelchair-accessible rooms. At Mercure, two people over 55 get a double room for the price of a single and two breakfasts for the price of one.
Searching for a place to eat is part of the Parisian adventure. Though most restaurants have steps at the entrance, many also have outdoor, heated (if necessary), accessible seating all year round.
"Tourisme & Handicap" Labeled sites
http://www.pidf.com (click on "Disabled People" or "Tourism and Disability")
Maison de la France
http://www.franceguide.com (click on "Special Needs Tourism" or "Tourism and the Disabled")
Air France http://www.airfrance.com or call (800) 237-2747 and ask about "senior" and "family" discounts.
SNCF Train discounts http://www.voyages-sncf.com (click on "Espace Senior" for "Carte Senior" and "Découverte Senior"). SNCFs special phone line for disabled travelers is 08.00.15.47.53.
Rail Europe http://www.raileurope.com (see "France Senior Pass")
Paris subway and bus http://www.citefutee.com (click on "Facilité d’accès" for excellent maps)
Taxis G7: http://www.taxis-g7.fr
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 Br
eaks 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
>* Coffee Br
Register now at
http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/liveinfrance/IIF_AUG_2005/IIF_home.html or contact Schuyler Hoffman at [email protected]/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!
European Housing Sizzles
By Noelle Knox, USA TODAY
Photos by Benedicte Kurzen
Contributing: Eric J. Lyman in Rome and Lisa Abend in Madrid
PARIS – When Sylvia Johnson started looking for a two-bedroom apartment in a fashionable quarter near the Park Monceau, she thought she could buy something for about $1.2 million.
She had to raise her budget by about $500,000 – a bit of a shock for someone from Louisville, where home prices rose about 2% last year.
"Ideally, I would have gotten in two years ago and really made a big gain," says Johnson, 55, a retired health care consultant.
The housing boom is not just a U.S. phenomenon: It’s a global boom. Some real estate markets around the world are making the U.S. market look calm. In France, prices have risen 87% since 1997, vs. 73% in the USA. Real estate prices are up 154% in Britain, 145% in Spain and 192% in Ireland over the same period, according to The Economist.
The feeding frenzy is being driven by low interest rates, which are even lower in Western Europe than in America. In addition, many Europeans are getting their first taste of American-style mortgage loans, making it easier for buyers to afford homes at rising prices.
Also, real estate might look like a more stable investment to people who got burned in the stock market bubble. And the rally this spring in the value of the U.S. dollar has brought many Americans to Paris, Costa Brava in Spain or Como in Italy in search of exotic real estate investments.
This is the longest international real estate boom in history. And that’s making some people nervous.
"One thing which is quite amazing is the length of time," says Thomas Helbling, an economist for the International Monetary Fund who has studied real estate booms and busts. "It roughly started between 1995 and 1997, depending on the country. And with the exception for the moment of Australia and the U.K., where markets have turned, it’s been going on 10 years."
Of course, not every market is on fire.
Home prices in Germany, for example, are tethered to the country’s double-digit unemployment rate and depressed consumer confidence levels. In Britain, prices have peaked and appear beyond the reach of many buyers. Not even the recent terrorist attack in London will have much effect on home prices, Lehman Bros. economists say, as long as it is an isolated incident.
Stuart Twells, a nurse in London, says he’s thinking about getting out of the profession because, on his salary, he can’t even afford to buy a studio apartment, which he says would cost almost $300,000.
"I’ve been looking into a driving job – taxi driving, train driving – or trade or to carry on in nursing but go into pharmaceutical sales," he says.
Short-term interest rates – which influence mortgage rates and other consumer loans – are currently a meager 2% in Europe and expected to decline in the coming months. In the USA, by contrast, the Federal Reserve last month raised its target for short-term interest rates to 3.25%, the highest in almost four years. (Mortgage rates across the Atlantic are difficult to compare, generally, because they vary from country to country, depending on the level of competition between banks and the rates of inflation.)
More flexible lending
What’s more, European banks are finally getting the hang of American-style mortgage loans. As prices really shot up about two years ago, banks started offering more flexible-interest and interest-only loans, as well as loans lasting up to 35 years. Previously, the standard home loan in Europe was a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage. Banks "had to make it easier for people to buy homes because prices were rising so quickly," says Patrice Brunet, director of Talleyrand, a small real estate company near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The other big advantage for Americans now is the rising value of the dollar against the euro, the currency used in a dozen European countries,
including France, Spain
, Italy and Germany. After weakening for more than three years, the dollar has strengthened this year. The U.S. currency has been boosted by good economic news in the USA and Federal Reserve interest rate increases, which improve investors’ returns. Even after slipping slightly recently, the dollar is still up by more than 10% against the euro this year.
That’s a big help to Giuseppe and Sharon Vellini – he’s Italian, she’s American – who rent an apartment in Rome but are shopping for a home in the countryside.
"I have money saved at a bank in Los Angeles, and now we will probably use some of that to pay for the house, when that wouldn’t have made sense a year ago, even a few months ago," says Sharon.
Maurizio Alteri, who works for the city of Rome, wishes he had gotten into the housing market sooner. He’s looking for a house in the country where he can live when he retires in four years. He’ll sell his house in Rome and use that money and his pension for living expenses.
"I have talked to many people who say it was much better looking for a house two or three years ago and that prices are just rising," he says. "They tell me that for some houses, prices are almost double compared to a few years ago, though I think that’s partially because of the euro. Prices were better when we used the lira."
Italy’s economy has slipped into a recession this year, taking some of the air out of the bubble. But in such countries as Ireland and Spain, real estate prices continue to climb.
Tom Denegre, an American and owner of Rental Spain, an online apartment service, says he has bought five apartments in Madrid in the past five years.
"As an investment, it’s been wonderful. We’ve watched values rise between 7% and 16% per year, which blows the doors off anything in the States."
Denegre, who worked as a Realtor in Virginia, adds, "Since I got here, everyone’s been saying that the bubble is going to burst. But five years later, they’re still saying that."
The real estate market also looks a lot better than the stock market to many investors.
While the Standard & Poor’s 500, for example, has risen nearly 60% since its post-crash low in October 2002, it is still about 20% off its record high in March 2000.
The U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates deeply in 2001 to ward off recession and counteract the aftershocks of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. European central banks followed suit. Around the world, people took advantage of lower rates to buy homes or refinance existing loans, using the extra money to buy clothes, furniture, cars and the like.
But what if home prices start falling now?
"We are concerned about the housing market globally, particularly in the U.S., and the role it’s playing in sustaining the consumer market there," says Michael Hume, a senior economist for Lehman Bros. in London.
High levels of debt
The worry, he says, is focused on high levels of consumer debt.
Last year in the USA, 42% of first-time home buyers qualified for a loan with no down payment; the number was 25% for the nation overall, according to the National Association of Realtors. More alarming is that one in three buyers took out an interest-only or negative-amortization loan.
With an interest-only loan, the borrower’s payment covers only the interest, so the outstanding balance of the loan does not decline. Even more risky are negative-amortization loans, on which the principal balance goes up because the monthly payments are not enough to cover the interest on the loan; the remaining interest is added to the balance due.
Borrowers using such loans are essentially betting that prices will continue to go up, allowing them to sell the house and pay off the loans with the profit or refinance it before the principal must be repaid.
Real estate busts have almost always preceded recessions, according to Helbling’s research with colleague Marco Terrones. They looked at real estate cycles in 14 countries from 1970 to 2001, and in every case except one, a "bust" was followed by a recession. The only country to escape relatively unscathed was the USA, which did not experience a national house price bust during this period.
"Historically, boom-bust cycles typically were the result of a combination of factors," he explains. "It would take a very bad shock to hit."
French Family Values
By Paul Krugman
Originally Published in the New York Times July 29, 2005
Photo by Tim O’Rielly
Americans tend to believe that we do everything better than anyone else. That belief makes it hard for us to learn from others. For example, I’ve found that many people refuse to believe that Europe has anything to teach us about health care policy. After all, they say, how can Europeans be good at health care when their economies are such failures?
Now, there’s no reason a country can’t have both an excellent health care system and a troubled economy (or vice versa). But are European economies really doing that badly?
The answer is no. Americans are doing a lot of strutting these days, but a head-to-head comparison between the economies of the United States and Europe – France, in particular – shows that the big difference is in priorities, not performance. We’re talking about two highly productive
societies that have made a different tradeoff between work and family time. And there’s a lot to be said for the French choice.
First things first: given all the bad-mouthing the French receive, you may be surprised that I describe their society as "productive." Yet according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, productivity in France – G.D.P. per hour worked – is actually a bit higher than in the United States.
It’s true that France’s G.D.P. per person is well below that of the United States. But that’s because French workers spend more time with their families.
O.K., I’m oversimplifying a bit. There are several reasons why the French put in fewer hours of work per capita than we do. One is that some of the French would like to work, but can’t: France’s unemployment rate, which tends to run about four percentage points higher than the U.S. rate, is a real problem. Another is that many French citizens retire early. But the main story is that full-time French workers work shorter weeks and take more vacations than full-time American workers.
The point is that to the extent that the French have less income than we do, it’s mainly a matter of choice. And to see the consequences of that choice, let’s ask how the situation of a typical middle-class family in France compares with that of its American counterpart.
The French family, without question, has lower disposable income. This translates into lower personal consumption: a smaller car, a smaller house, less eating out.
But there are compensations for this lower level of consumption. Because French schools are good across the country, the French family doesn’t have to worry as much about getting its children into a good school district. Nor does the French family, with guaranteed access to excellent health care, have to worry about losing health insurance or being driven into bankruptcy by medical bills.
Perhaps even more important, however, the members of that French family are compensated for their lower income with much more time together. Fully employed French workers average about seven weeks of paid vacation a year. In America, that figure is less than four.
So which society has made the better choice?
I’ve been looking at a new study of international differences in working hours by Alberto Alesina and Edward Glaeser, at Harvard, and Bruce Sacerdote, at Dartmouth. The study’s main point is that differences in government regulations, rather than culture (or taxes), explain why Europeans work less than Americans.
But the study also suggests that in this case, government regulations actually allow people to make a desirable tradeoff – to modestly lower income in return for more time with friends and family – the kind of deal an individual would find hard to negotiate. The authors write: "It is hard to obtain more vacation for yourself from your employer and even harder, if you do, to coordinate with all your friends to get the same deal and go on vacation together."
And they even offer some statistical evidence that working fewer hours makes Europeans happier, despite the loss of potential income.
It’s not a definitive result, and as they note, the whole subject is "politically charged." But let me make an observation: some of that political charge seems to have the wrong sign.
American conservatives despise European welfare states like France. Yet many of them stress the importance of "family values." And whatever else you may say about French economic policies, they seem extremely supportive of the family as an institution. Senator Rick Santorum, are you reading this?
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Leading Mediterranean Naturist Center, Only Minutes Away From Fine Golden Beaches
Protected naturist beaches, beautiful rivers and pine forests, reputed vineyards and picturesque yachting ports. The Cap d’Agde region offers the freedom of communal nudity within the security of an enormous resort divided into two sections: the "naturist" section and the "textile" section. Experience this international clothing-optional city, with its own produce shops, bakeries, restaurants and n
s, where people in every possible state of dress and undress roam freely. In addition to the attraction of the coast, fantastic beaches and leisure activities, the region is reputed for the quality of its climate and the beauty of its countryside. Le Cap d’Agde is the leading resort in the Languedoc-Roussillon region where sports, festivals and entertainment abound.
Nestled within the reputed international naturist village, only three minutes from fine golden sand beaches and Bagnas natural park, Residence Natureva is protected and secured by a wonderful pine forest. The residence offers privacy and the freedom to live as a naturalist in comfort. Enjoy studio to 2 bedroom apartments with terrace, large swimming pool and air conditioning. Accommodations offer the possibility of living as a naturist in the sun as you wish.
Generating enormous interest, the unique location of Residence Natureva makes for a fantastic investment opportunity. In the summertime, naturist beaches welcome over 40,000 people from all over the world. Take advantage of the fantastic reception, facilities, leisure and sporting activities available to meet all of your naturalist needs. Explore the unforgettable yachting ports, beautiful clear water lakes and 14km of protected beaches, all on an exceptional site — the perfect back drop for a wide variety of nautical activities including windsurfing, catamaran, canoeing, beach volleyball, swimming pools, open air cinema, discotheque and a whole panorama of summer games and entertainment. Reporting an approximate 28.4% price increase in 2003, Residence Natureva offers high guaranteed rental income and promising investment potential.
FPI Property Consultation, Search and Relocation Solutions
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.
FPI Offers More Relocation Solutions!
Let our experienced relocation expert help make your move easy and hassle-free. We offer complete property and relocation services normally only provided by employer hired relocation firms…but at a price much more affordable for individuals.
Solution #1: Property Consultation and Search Services
Solution #2: Purchase Assistance
Solution #3: Getting a Mortgage in France
Solution #4: Property Appraisal Service
Solution #5: The "Après Vente"
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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.
Compare currency values easily and quickly by visiting: http://adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/loan/moneycorpconvertor.html
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.
Upstairs at La Pierre du Marais
96, rue des Archives at the corner of rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
Métro Lines 9, 3 et 11, stations Temple, République or Arts et Métiers
HOT PROPERTY PICKS: Retirement Dreams on the Côte d’Azur
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
*** Antibes, Alpes Maritimes, 3 rooms, 56m²
This 3 room apartment in a modern new building is in excellent condition. Located on the main floor, it offers 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a 38m² terrace, garage and swimming pool. Southern exposure with an unobstructed view.
Asking Price: 318,000 Euros + 2.5% Finder’s Fee
*** Nice, Alpes Maritimes, 4 rooms, 111m²
Located in a modern building in a quiet residential area, is this lovely main floor apartment. It offers a fully equipped kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large living room, and a 55m² terrace. With a cellar, parking for two cars and air conditioning.
Asking Price: 465,000 Euros + 2.5% Finder’s Fee
*** Saint Raphael, Var, 5 rooms, 150m²
This 5 room villa offers a beautiful panoramic view of the golf course and Esterel hills. It has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms — perfect for entertaining guests — plus a 830m² garden, swimming pool, and large garage. The location is quiet but not isolated, and the home is in very good condition.
Asking Price: 519,000 Euros + 2.5% Finder’s Fee
SEEKING A MORTGAGE IN FRANCE?
Let us help you secure a mortgage in France with interest rates as low
as 3%. Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/loan for
David Anderson, Mortgage Advisor
Banque Patrimoine et Immobilier
ExPatriate & No Resident Service
Contact Yolanda Robins
Contact Yolanda Robins
GE Money Bank
Contact Yolanda Robins
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!
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THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
To access password protected pages: click on any of the links on the left panel of the home page of FrenchPropertyInsider.com under "Subscriber’s Only," then type in your personal username and password.
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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/
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.
For all short term rental apartments in Paris, take a look at http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/apartments or http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/longterm.html for long term apartments.
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