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Shopping For French Property In London

We flew to London on EasyJet, very inexpensive fares and simple and fast boarding and deplaning…but for any of you considering traveling between Paris and London, the Eurostar high speed 2 1/2 hour center-city to center-city train trip is hands down a better way to go at any price. Live and learn.

The 5th annual French Property Exhibition called “Vive la France” was, without a doubt, the largest of its kind and in its history. Jocelyn Carnegie, our Property Sales Manager, and I set out early Friday morning to be some of the first to arrive, before the exhibitors were too busy to spend a reasonable amount of time with us. It takes up two entire levels of the Olympia Exhibition Hall in Kensington — the London Underground easily takes you there. They were expecting over 40,000 visitors and from the crowds we experienced Friday and Saturday, I’d say they may have even beaten their expectation.

The first level was mostly made up of exhibitors and vendors of French products, tourist boards, publications and tour-related services. On one side, cooking demonstrations were taking place. At the back, a fashion show was in progress. Vendors of cheeses, wines, sausages, furniture, art and anything French were selling their wares…successfully.

The second level comprised real estate agents, lenders, moving companies and other property-related services. This is where we had the most interest. Many of our friends and associates were there…Banque Patrimoine et Immobilier and Abbey National, two of our favorite lenders, and we spoke at length with contender Barclays Bank who is becoming more aggressive in the marketplace (/frenchproperty/insider/mortgage.html). Conseil Patrimoine, the agency we work closely with on leaseback properties, was there showing off all the properties they have for sale at the moment with displays of big, beautiful photos (/frenchproperty/insider/leasebacks/index.html). Agencies from all over France were displaying their properties, on the walls of their booths, in their catalogs and brochures, in their conversations with potential buyers. For the British, owning a piece of France is big business.

What struck us most was the distinct difference between the American and British customers. Of the 500 exhibitors (approximately), we spotted only two promoting Paris! Sure, Normandy, Brittany, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence were well represented…but Paris? Pathetically forgotten. The sharp contrast of the interest by the British to own an old stone farmhouse with lots of land in a warm climate ranks well above owning a pied-à-terre in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (like us Yanks). They buy in France because property is less expensive, the food is better, the climate more temperate and the cultural lifestyle richer. From all their publications and presentations about living in France, one can easily get the impression that they come not because of the French, but in spite of them!

I wasn’t shocked, but it still never ceases to amaze me how different we are from our English-speaking brethren (and I generalize, of course!)

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]

P.S. Jocelyn and I learned lots during our two days at Vive La France and made friends with people who will help us find the best properties for you. If you are interested in having your own little corner of this part of the globe, don’t hesitate to contact him or visit our consultation services information at /frenchproperty/insider/propertyconsultation.html

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