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France

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  • droopsnout
    droopsnout Posts: 3,620 Forumite
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    Thanks, miacat! But well, the thread is not really in the right place for anyone who might be interested in that kind of info! And in any case, that would be a tiny minority of MSE-ers.
    Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. - Thomas Sowell, "Is Reality Optional?", 1993
  • chessfou
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    Wow, what a lot to look at, consider and respond to but not enough time to do it [I spend about 50 hrs/week watching the screens and trading shares - that's how I've made my living since 2000-2001, plus a lot of time now investigating arrangements for our move next year].

    Many thanks, especially to droopsnout (having worked/played with computers for 35 years I really should have thought of the U/lc trap), for the enormous amount of typing.

    I agree that this is in the wrong place but there was no "right" place available and this board seemed to me to be the best compromise.

    I know that when you have put in a vast amount of input, it is disappointing when someone does not immediately respond (and I knew the stuff was here - 'cos I got an automated email from the site) but sometimes people just can't respond immediately.

    I will try and work through (over the next month or so) the various sub-threads that "Obélix" (in particular) has created but for the moment let me just say:
    (1) Of course there's a lot of research to do (that was the point of the initial post);
    (2) We started researching 5 years ago, settled on a département 2 years ago and have since been visiting regularly (to the point that we feel comfortable with the choice) and working on the "technical" stuff [I only wish I could say that I had a good answer as to how to mix 'n match the tax implications of PEP/ISA/SIPP v. PERP/PEA, not to mention a few others, but I can't ... yet];
    (3) We move to France late next Spring but have absolutely no intention of buying anywhere before end 2006/spring 2007 (at the earliest) - personally, I don't understand why so many people are anxious to buy (apparently on a whim) rather than rent;
    (4) I wanted to find some sort of equivalent French site because most of those that I had found (LivingFrance especially but even Frenchentree) seemed to be dominated entirely by "Brits" wittering on about how to get SKY or the Beeb for their holiday homes, how to make cheap calls back to the UK or to get cheap ferry trips whatever, that I fully expected to stumble across a FAQ of where to find your local cricket team;
    (5) I absolutely agree the point about accents. I find the local accent distinctly difficult (not a bit like Tours), although my wife finds it moderately easy but then she used to work no more than 100km away and the accent there was very similar;
    (6) Yes, there is a big difference between "tourist" or "conversational" French and the nitty-gritty of technical vocab (even my wife has yet to get to grips with a full gardening vocabulary - I don't even have that in English ;-) ) but we should have plenty of time for that (we will be living there for some time before buying which gives us plenty of opportunity to fill in the gaps - quite probably courtesy of the Govt. of Quebec which has lots of useful technical vocab lists on its web site - not least because I will almost certainly be cutting down substantially on the time spent on the investment front, while my wife has already been retired for years), albeit between us we already have a substantial amount of detail/technical stuff in the fields of audio/visual, computing, education, electrical, electronics, financial and publishing and, above all, we have the single most important word ("truc") which is the equivalent of what I always used when dealing with UK builders when we restored houses in 1985 and 1987 ('cos I don't have the technical vocab in English either), so it was always a case of "that thing that heats the water" or "the thing that supports the wall above the window" or whatever.

    Anyway, thanks again for all the effort and I will try to flesh out those threads with the stuff that I have already acquired.
    Filiss
  • droopsnout
    droopsnout Posts: 3,620 Forumite
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    Ha! From what I have just read, Chessfou, you have nothing to be concerned about, and any snippets of info you collect between now and your move will perhaps be a bonus. You are clearly better informed than many making the move.

    Afraid I do agree with you about the insecurity of Brits on the forums you mention, as they scrabble to make their new home just like their old one. There is also a herding instinct, as ex-pats form their dinner and coffee morning circles. It's not for us, but I don't hold it against those who do it, except it seems to make us Brits a race apart!

    But although I personally don't like the growing Brit invasion of the area around us, nor the determination by some to form their own Little Britain, it is important, as you obviously realise fully, that people do their research properly.

    Anyway, thank you for taking the time to reply and for having done so very tactfully!! :)

    Just one point: I think many may prefer to buy quite quickly rather than to rent for a while because renting can be very expensive. I certainly appreciate the advantages of renting, and we would have done so if we hadn't had a big caravan (all mod cons) to stay in until we found our house.But for those who are willing to invest a little less in their house, but a little more in their time and capacity to judge, I thoroughly recommend renting whilst the chosen area is thoroughly explored.

    Regarding the location of all this info, I think there was a small experiment going on to see whether the Board's admin would start a new forum devoted to buying abroad. Your OP was certainly in the correct forum!

    Good luck for the future, and I shall be interested to hear of your progress.
    Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. - Thomas Sowell, "Is Reality Optional?", 1993
  • chessfou
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    droopsnout (in his "general note" post, #8 in this thread) mentioned the TotalFrance site in connection with writing a French cheque.

    It is, indeed, useful and an excellent written description:
    http://www.totalfrance.com/france/fiches.php?fiche_id=53
    especially for anyone who does not know enough French to handle the names of numbers (and/or who might need to be shown or reminded how to write a recognizable 7 - with a line through it; that's how I've written them for about 35 years and I think even the Inland Revenue here in the UK accepts them now). However, it is not very graphic and does not (IMHO) make it clear that the very first thing to be entered is the amount in words. Spoilt also by the error of showing multiple hundreds as "cents" instead of the correct "cent" (e.g. "cinq cents quarante trois euros et trente centimes" really messes things up; meaning, I suppose, 5 cents 43 euros and 30 centimes, if you can still find some of those old coins, instead of "cing cent quarante-trois euros et trente cents" which really = EUR 543,30).

    Frenchentrée is better in that respect, since there is a little picture of a cheque filled out:
    http://www.frenchentree.com/fe-lavie/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=6542
    However, I wonder what some bank clerks would make of "sixty hundred" (soixante cent - here it should be "cents") and the dot between 25 & 60 should, of course, be a comma.

    BTW it really should be "cents" (rather than "centimes"), although there is an amusing page on the Banque de France web site where they appear to be hedging their bets by using "cents" in the text but "centimes" for the size graphic:
    http://www.banque-france.fr/fr/instit/billets/histeuro/euro_pt/piecescoul.htm

    Tricky little blighters are numbers (I *REALLY* hope I haven't missed anything while proof-reading this message of mine).
    Filiss
  • droopsnout
    droopsnout Posts: 3,620 Forumite
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    chessfou wrote:
    Spoilt also by the error of showing multiple hundreds as "cents" instead of the correct "cent" (e.g. "cinq cents quarante trois euros et trente centimes" really messes things up; meaning, I suppose, 5 cents 43 euros and 30 centimes, if you can still find some of those old coins, instead of "cing cent quarante-trois euros et trente cents" which really = EUR 543,30).

    You are correct in saying that "cents" as in "hundred" should be singular in that example.

    The "s" is not appended to "cent" when there is a number of hundreds, with tens or units, thus: "deux cent cinquante filles" (250 girls). The "s" is appended, though, when there are hundreds only, with no tens or units: "deux cents filles" (200 girls).

    On bank notes, there is no "s" on the plural of "euro". This was adopted Europe-wide. However, nearly all written French showing the plural seems to show "euros".

    Whatever the official position of the Banque de France, all French people that I have heard talking use the word "centime" to mean one-hundredth of a euro, and the word "cent" is not used in this context, probably because of the potential for confusion with the word for "hundred", but also out of familiarity, and the proper meaning of the word "centime".

    In practice, these are very picky points usually picked up on by smarty-pants foreigners! The French farmers round here probably couldn't care less! Since the French are no less apt to make spelling mistakes than the British, banks are likely to accept mis-spelt cheques so long as the intention is clear.

    chessfou wrote:
    Frenchentrée is better in that respect, since there is a little picture of a cheque filled out:
    http://www.frenchentree.com/fe-lavie/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=6542
    However, I wonder what some bank clerks would make of "sixty hundred" (soixante cent - here it should be "cents") and the dot between 25 & 60 should, of course, be a comma.
    Hmm. I would have written in words: vingt-cinq euros et soixante centimes. I may have omitted the "et". I may have written the "soixante" as "60".

    I think it makes no difference, again so long as the intention is clear.

    You are certainly right, Chessfou, in saying that numbers are tricky. It is still one of the most difficult tasks, when listening to sales assistants, etc., to understand the numbers they use immediately, whether it be in terms of money, dimensions, etc.
    Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. - Thomas Sowell, "Is Reality Optional?", 1993
  • chessfou
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    droopsnout wrote:
    all French people that I have heard talking use the word "centime" to mean one-hundredth of a euro, and the word "cent" is not used in this context

    Agree completely and I would expect to use "centime" in speech but "cent/s" in formal written text (e.g. on a cheque) - just as, in writing out a UK cheque, I would not write "fifty quid" but "fifty pounds." [Not to mention the occasional "Grand"]
    Filiss
  • chessfou
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    Found one!

    Comparatel seems (I've only just found it*) to do a good job of comparing the costs of phones (both fixed & mobile) and internet subs:
    http://www.comparatel.fr/

    There's even a forum (I haven't joined it yet but will probably do so).

    * and have had a quick look at call price comparisons, as well as checking out ADSL prices.
    Filiss
  • droopsnout
    droopsnout Posts: 3,620 Forumite
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    Good find! I tried it out for a half-hour call to the UK at 8 p.m. on a weekday. Its best result was for the company I've named above. However, it did not pick the cheapest service that company offers!

    I then tried it for a two-minute call on a weekday morning, within my own département. It named the parent of the one named above, but didn't specifically mention Les Minutes. Yet the cost would be the same.

    So handy, but not infallible.
    Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. - Thomas Sowell, "Is Reality Optional?", 1993
  • clipboard2
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    May I caution anyone thinking of buying now on the French Riviera? Property prices have almost tripled in the last 2 years.
    I was damn lucky and bought a brand new 2 piece (1 bed ) appartment in central Nice in Dec 2003 - identical properties in my Villa back on the market now are asking almost 3 x what I paid.
    Blurb from the French property companies are gloomy - "why bother buy to let" - apparently rents have gne through the floor because of oversupply. Plently of cheap rents and French law favours the tenant.
    Apparently theres been a marked increase in Brits arriving at Nice over the last 12 months- coincidence or what ?
  • droopsnout
    droopsnout Posts: 3,620 Forumite
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    As this thread has risen to the top again, thought I'd just point out that LesMinutes, the phone service, has a new number which allows calls to be made to the UK (and a number of other countries) for 1.1 cts off-peak, 2.8 cts peak, plus a connection charge of 7.8 cts. For most calls, that would be by far the cheapest, I think. (Prices per minute).


    https://www.lesminutesdirect.com
    Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. - Thomas Sowell, "Is Reality Optional?", 1993
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