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Paris Success Stories: Going to the Dogs

The ending went to the dogs. That was when Hat (Harriet) Sternstein, American proprietor of “Mon Bon Chien,” the gourmet pet bakery, which was featured this past weekend in the International Herald Tribune, agreed to make a special surprise appearance just before the closing of the Living and Investing in France Conference, to deliver her message: “If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.”

She had attended the first conference of its kind in 2002 — 14 conferences ago — and “blames” me for making her believe that starting a business in France is possible. Saturday she celebrated the anniversary of her second year in France and the huge success of her innovative idea that through hard work and perseverance came to fruition, not to mention enormous publicity.

The attendees who came from all over the U.S. (California, Georgia, Texas, Michigan…) had similar goals: to learn how to make the move to France or invest in property that would yield both a profit and a great place to call home. The conference team, which includes John Howell from John Howell & Co., his wife, Janie and one of his London-based French attorneys (young and funny Sebastien Oddos), the Parler Paris/French Property Insiders Yolanda Robins, Lynda Sydney, myself and Conference Assistant Ana Escomel, remarked as we always do at the closing of a conference, that the participants are wonderful, fascinating people who we are so pleased to have gotten to know.

John’s team specializes in presenting all legal and practical aspects of making a property investment in France, including how to obtain the right to be in France, how to profit from various investment programs, how to minimize tax liability and then, as the author of a new book on the subject, how to start a business in France. Fréderic Leroux of the Paris Region Economic Development Agency added quite a bit to assist would-be entrepreneurs. Yolanda Robins led the sessions on how to find great properties; architect and designer Derek Bush gave tips on what architectural pitfalls to watch for when visiting properties and showed off some of his recent handiwork and I spoke about how to rent property for profit (Parler Paris Apartments rental and management agency is in the developmental stage, soon to become a reality).

Banque Patrimoine et Immobilier brought four of their team to present how to get a mortgage, one of the most important aspects of purchasing property in today’s world with a unbalanced rate of exchange, but low interest rates. Fréderic Fauchereau with Advantage Insurance gave everyone the good news on low cost health insurance for Expatriates — I being one of the happy customers for the last 11 years. Peter Zipper, with the AngloIrish Bank of Austria, brings with him a European dry sense of humor that taught us how to protect our assets by holding them off shore in low risk accounts that as he says “it’s as simple as this: we take your money and make more of it.” Also on the subject of money, currency exchange specialist, Alex Berry, from HiFX, London, was last on the roster, but no doubt provided the tip that saves participants more money than the price of the conference…just in learning how to make currency transfers at a much lower rate than the banks.


more of a lifestyle note, Marie-Elisabeth Crochard, co-coordinator of Parler Parlor and past District Director of Berlitz, gave her Do’s and Don’ts to learning French while teasing me and my level of French (one attendee wrote: “I enjoyed seeing Adrian and Elisabeth interact — Lucy and Ethel the French/American version.” Intercultural Specialist Natalie Lutz, spoke on crossing the cultural divide, and brought surprise guest speaker Gilles Asselin, co-author of “Au Contraire: Figuring Out the French,” here this week for the Salon du Livre. His co-author, Ruth Mastron has often delighted the attendees at past conferences.

Saturday night, over a very nice dinner at Chez Jenny, the attendees and a few outside friends, were mesmerized by Alison Harris’ stunning black and white photos of Paris set to rotate on a slide show while her husband and author, David Downie, read excerpts from “Paris, Paris: A Journey Into the City of Light.” This morning the group is taking the private tour of the Hôtel de Ville lead by Marie-France Bennett, the City Hall’s official tour guide, while I write this missive and nurse a budding cold.

This afternoon, Yolanda and her Property Search Consultant Ellen Jung-j2999se, are taking the group (in two parts each starting at opposite ends) to about five or six Paris apartments in the Marais (3rd and 4th arrondissements) and Montorgeuil (2nd arrondissement) districts that our property team found for our clients. All but one were conference attendees from the past — all enjoying their “pied-à-terres” in Paris by living in them part of the time and successfully renting the other part.

At the end of the conferences, we ask everyone to complete an evaluation. We want to know just how well we performed and if they felt the three intense days were worth their time and money. Consistently, we’ve gotten scores of 4.5 and higher out of a 1 to 5 possibility. This conference was no different. Some of their comments were:

“Excellent! The information gained at the conference was invaluable. Am incredibly impressed with the caliber of speakers.”

“Better than my wildest expectations! I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and contacts.”

“High-quality speakers ­ amazingly so. I’m so glad I signed up for this course and look forward to buying and working with you all. The course is as good as promised ­ no, better! Thank you!”

“I’m SO glad we came to this seminar. We look forward to future dealings for a long time. Many thanks.”

It really does my heart good to know the efforts are not only useful, but appreciated. This group is now so much further ahead of the rest — it’s the first hurdle to understanding how to make the move or the investment, not only a reality, but a successful one, with as little hassle and expense as possible.

Our next conference is scheduled for May 26 – 28, 2006 in New Orleans, the city we love and want to support. For more information, visit /frenchproperty/conference/LIF_NOLA_2006/LIF_NOLA_home.html

Editor’s Notes:

To read the International Herald Tribune article about Mon Bon Chien, visit

To get your copy of “Paris, Paris: A Journey into the City of Light” or “Au Contraire! Figuring Out the French,” visit /parlerparis/books/booksaboutfrance.html

To contact any of the presenters of the Living and Investing in France Conference to learn more about their services, visit /parlerparis/ or /frenchproperty/insider or /frenchproperty/consultation or email us at [email protected]

A la prochaine…







Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. A very special congratulations to the three winners of last week’s contest to celebrate the 100th Parler Paris Previews Community Calendar!:

The 1st person to respond was Edwin M. Martin, Jr., the 10th was Andrea Brand and the 100th was Charles McGrath who each will receive a free electronic copy of the “Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants!”

Many thanks to all of you for participating! We hope to offer more opportunities to win prizes, so just keep reading Parler Paris!


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