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The Normandy Invasion of London

The British are so keen to invest in property outside the UK, that there were three property shows going at once this past weekend in London…The French Property Exhibition at the Olympia, The Homes Overseas Exhibition at Earl’s Court and The Property Investor Show 2005 at ExCel. I spent time between two of them (the first two), taking up a small corner of John Howell & Co. stands, our partner on the Invest in France conferences and seminars.

John Howell and his team of more than 30 attorneys specialize in property law overseas, having recently expanded beyond Europe and into new and emerging markets — hence, a change from his site at to He is a regular exhibitor and during the Homes Overseas show held seminars on a variety of topics.

Trade shows of this nature are extremely informative for would-be investors — an advantage the British have in becoming savvy property purchasers. They’ve been venturing outside the U.K. for holiday homes for well over 20 years. Americans are starting to get the hang of it, now, too, as we see more and more sign up for our conferences and seminars then take the plunge and invest in a pied-à-terre in Paris or villa in Provence.

While I was wandering from stand to stand with colleague Mary Fort from Banque Patrimoine et Immobilier (BPI, one of the lending institutions we regularly work with), we happened upon a shelf of books about France being sold at the French Property News stand. I recognized many of my compatriots and long-time friends’ books on the shelf — “French or Foe” and “Savoir Flair,” cultural crossings self-help books by Polly Platt who has spoken many times at our events; “French Spirits,” a memoir by Jeffrey Greene who purchased and renovated a presbytery in Burgundy and who is an instructor at the upcoming Paris Poetry Workshop and “On Rue Tatin,” also a memoir by Susan Herrmann Loomis of her experience finding and purchasing an old home in Normandy. By coincidence, a few moments earlier, I had ended a phone conversation with Susan Loomis about meeting up this week while she was in Paris and because I didn’t have a copy of the book, took the opportunity to purchase it. (FYI, both French Spirits and On Rue Tatin are published in the U.K. with different covers than their U.S. counterparts.)

I had the book in hand when I stopped by the BPI stand, where agency Director Stéphane Denner was talking with potential mortgage clients. He noticed the title of the book and casually said, “There is a rue Tatin in my home town in Normandy.” Upon closer inspection, indeed Susan Loomis wrote about the same Rue Tatin in the same town of Louviers in Normandy and about many of the same people Stéphane has known his whole life! We were astounded by the coincidence!

Louviers is in upper Normandy about 100 kilometers from Paris in the département Eure with about 19,000 inhabitants. To have stumbled upon one of them at that very instance was one of those synchronistic moments when you know you’re in the right place at the right time.
Its church, Notre Dame, has parts which date from the 13th century — the very church next to Susan’s house, which had been a convent for 300 years. The town is also well known for its Musée des décors de Théâtre, d’Opéra et de Cinéma (Fondation Wakhévitch) and other famous people including 17th-century painter Jean Nicolle, 18th-century poet and author, Michel Linant and 18th-century theologist, Jean-Baptiste Gauthier.

I also thought it very apropos that we should be discussing Normandy while on British soil. It’s similar to taking the Eurostar and landing at Waterloo.

A la prochaine…








Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. P.S. To get your copy of On Rue Tatin or the other books about France, visit /parlerparis/books/booksaboutfrance.html

P.P.S. You will be able to meet John Howell at the upcoming Living and Investing in France Conference San Francisco October 21 – 23, the Invest in France Seminar New York City October 26 and the Welcome to France Fair Paris October 16. For more information, visit /frenchproperty/conference/index.html


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