Monthly Archives: November 2014

Arriving in France

As I’ve said before, if you are travelling from Oz Cathay Pacific offers a good solution. You leave home in the afternoon, have a 2 hour stopover in Hongkers and arrive in Paris at around 6 am at Terminal 2.  The same Terminal has a train station ,so you have about a 10 minute walk to catch your TGV to wherever you are going next, if it isn’t Paris it’s worth mentioning that the TGV network in europe is ever expanding and we think that it’s THE way to go .

However on this trip I am renting a car from Avis.  The latest car rental strategy seems to be to quote you an apparently low rental and then load you up with an additional daily rate (13euros) for full insurance with a low excess and GPS at another exorbitant daily rate–you can buy your own for about a hundred bucks. Many travel insurance packages cover up to €4000 excess, so it pays to check this out carefully.
Anyway, I wandered around and found the Avis stand. Car not ready ,would I like to wait with a glass of water?  I said that I would go and have some breakfast. So I went back upstairs to a place called ” Frenchies”.  Please wait to be served. I waited, got seated, and waited, and waited. Half empty, waiting staff wandering about, studiously avoiding eye contact.  And waited.  And walked out.
Welcome to France.
Next door was a Mackkas.  What’s a hungry, coffee deprived boy to do?  I went in it is automated!!  You go to a screen, attempt to identify and order what you want and then pay the screen. You then take your receipt to the counter and, you guessed it, wait!  Anyway the coffee was good.
Back to Avis. The car you ordered ( a Citroen ) isn’t available.  Would you like a Peugeot?  It has GPS. (See above ) . NO thank you to the extra 12€ a day. So they gave it to me anyway. A tiny victory .
So I went where they pointed me, found the car and oriented myself. The GPS was easy to program and the nice lady spoke to me in English. I really needed the GPS just to get out of the airport.  It is tres, tres complique indeed.  But with the help of the English lady I made it onto the road for Normandy, which goes around the outskirts of Paris.
Almost immediately the traffic stopped (5 lanes) and we sat.  A notice came up on the GPS saying multiple accidents next 6 miles, do you want to take an alternative route. I tapped the “yes ” option. It then told me there wasn’t one! So we inched along and I reflected on the trip.

  • Visit former Melbourne friends who have moved to France to set up a B+B in Arromanches on the Normandy coast.
  • Checking out the house after a season of guests have visited and carry out maintenance
  • Taste some wine in Bugundy for my wine importing venture
  • Buy stock for the new shop we are going to set up to sell French imports
  • Visit an old car market and general love in in Lyon and eat some fantastic Lyonnaise food
  • Help our mate Reg. look for a bigger and better apartment in Uzes
  • Look for a car to buy and leave here ,so we don’t have to deal with the car rental people any more

Back to reality.  We have hardly moved.  Everyone is very patient and accepting.  It takes me 3 hours to clear Paris.  After that it’s a doddle
Welcome to France

To be continued when my typing finger stops hurting.

Blog on!

John’s blog resumes after a very long layoff.
Janelle and I came over in april this year. I decided that I would keep a notebook with me at all times so that I would have lots of interesting materials for the blog including observations on the French way of life. From these notes and observations I would produce the blog about once a week , sitting in our delightful courtyard under the olive tree.
By the end of two weeks I was totally behind and my good intentions were in tatters!
So I thought I’ll do a deep and meaningful summary blog when I get home.
That didn’t happen either.
But in august I went to America to try and sell an old car ( successful ) and I did a blog nearly every day. So I’m quite conditioned  .I know that I just have to set time aside each day or two and just do it!

So here goes–

First a bit of general stuff before we get on to this trip.
This year has been our first full year of renting the house. We have had guests in the house for the best part of four months. They were either people we knew or people who saw our ad. On the VRBO site. We had one lot of guests from Air bnb. Never again.!
The house has been really well treated by our guests and for that we are very grateful.
We have a Visitor’s Book full of compliments ( except for one guest who didn’t like the swallows).  So our decision to rent and to trust people with our lovely things in the house has been vindicated , we think.
When we bought the house we opened a bank account with Credit Agricole, about which I have written. We get at least a letter a week from them in Australia– in French. This is despite the fact that they have a whole department in Nimes devoted to expats. Each time they communicate in French I ask them to do English. No response. But a couple of weeks ago we got something in English — a very carefully and cleverly worded letter asking us to provide some very personal and private information so that they could better advise us how to minimise our French taxes.  I was nearly overcome by their concern for our interests.  In English ,too!
Since we bought the house here I have been importing wine into Australia. I love the wines of the South. The flavours are quite familiar to our palates and the wines for the most part are very well priced. I have been importing them a pallet (56 dozen) at a time. Two of the wines are on the lists of two of Melbourne’s best restaurants , so we must be doing something right.
When we were last here Janelle got very excited by some linen dresses she found ,as well as some Belgian linen cloth which she wants to use to make cushions. From this has sprung the idea to set up a business in Australia called Our French House. There will be a shop at Bunyip and we will expand this site into an e- commerce site to sell what we bring in. We hope to have it up and running in the new year. Stay tuned.
Next year we already have a number of bookings. We are booked for 3 weeks in May, a week in July, 3 weeks in September, all of October and a week in November.
Having sold my beautiful Sunbeam in America I am looking to buy a car to keep in France. This should provide some interesting material for the blog