Archive for the ‘Useful Information’ Category

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year now since I moved out of our Villeurbanne loft, had a baby and moved to the French countryside. The trials and tribulations of the house purchase have become a distant memory and yet I hadn’t even started exploring the local area until this weekend (apart from a trip or two to the lake for lunch and a swim).

Sunday morning, we awoke to beautiful sunshine, it was cold but sunny. After the Arctic weather spell, cabin fever had set in and I was itching to get out and explore. Mr Piglet had told me about Morestel and over breakfast he happened to mention that one of his clients had sung the praises of the market.

Baby Piglet still loves her naps so any exploring needs to be done pretty much between nap times so within half an hour we were all dressed ready to go.

It took about 20 minutes to get there from here, 20 minutes in which I saw the temperature drop from 8 degrees to 3 degrees and the sun be replaced by fog. Great!

When we arrived the market was immersed in fog which enabled me to take a few unusual pictures, including one where the church (high above the town) looked like it was surreal.

Submerged in fog


Morestel is an old painters town and was home to François-Auguste RAVIER. His home is now a gallery which is unfortunately closed until March. In fact, all of the galleries and arty shops are closed until then but we still had a nice walk around, exploring the market and taking pictures.

Ravier's House

Whilst at the market, we spotted some chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs. Baby Piglet had a great time looking at them, bewildered, scared and intrigued – all at the same time! I had a fun time watching the expressions cross her face and then she started talking to the birds!

After visiting the market and getting some fresh vegetables, we had a wander through the town and up to the old town. I had fun taking photos and the locals had fun staring at me! I love architecture so the ancient buildings and different eras were of much interest to me.


By the time we got back to the car Baby Piglet was fast asleep!

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Our bad luck has continued and words have betrayed me ever since the latest news in the house saga came in on Friday morning. Since the bad news came in, I have not been able to stop crying, teary fits of hysteria have become common place and I feel like a butterfly floating around with no-where to go. I will be 38 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow. I don’t think I have ever been at this level of desperation and I am clutching at the ropes right now.

Friday started pretty well, a gorgeous sunny morning with record breaking temperatures. I’d planned to spend the day relaxing on the terrace, soaking up some rays and reading the baby books I’d purchased. Fairly early on though, I could see that Mr Piglet was agitated and was trying to come to terms with something. He had one of those looks on his face and was flitting around, trying to occupy himself, as if he wanted to tell me something but couldn’t bring himself to do it. After nearly 12 years together I can pretty much read him like a book so I suggested that he tell me whatever he needed to say and I promised I wouldn’t hit him.

As it turned out, I could have killed someone but he wasn’t to be the one and I am still working out who it will have to be today. Our notaire had called to advise us that the purchase of the property wouldn’t be able to complete on the 18th April after all. The SAFER had utilized their right of pre-emption on the land and property and had forcefully stopped the sale and purchase going through!

What on earth is this all about you’re probably wondering? Well, the SAFER is a French government, supposedly non-profit organization whose job it is to preserve the French countryside and look out for agricultures interests. As part of its role, it can stop a sale going through if there is someone with an agricultural interest in the property or land that is being sold.

Each time a property with agricultural land is being sold the SAFER must be notified. You can pay (or as Fly from “French Leave” put it “bribe”) the SAFER to treat your request quicker than normal as we did by writing a cheque (for a couple of hundred Euros BTW) and supposedly get a quicker response, or you can wait two months for them to come back to you and find out whether or not they want to buy instead.

For most property purchase this is just a formality, a piece of paper that you have to obtain, just like obtaining the piece of paper from the Town Hall regarding their right to pre-empt. Never in a million years did anyone expect the SAFER to utilize their right and to put an end to the sale!

As the notaire tried to explain to a devastated Mr Piglet, the SAFER had (at the very, very last minute) notified the vendors notaire that they would be putting a stop to the sale as they had a “paysan” (farmer) who wanted to buy. The notaire explained to Mr Piglet that they could impose a lower sales price on the vendors, forcefully stopping the sale of the property to us and if the vendors weren’t in agreement then the case would have to be presented to the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) and it would be up to them to decide. Being familiar with the French legal system (I have had a business court case that has been going on for nearly five years now), this spelt things out pretty clear to us: we were in the s**t!

The land in question

According to our notaire there is a meeting next week between the SAFER and the vendors and we will try and attend also with legal representation as we are sure that there is something fishy going on:

1. the property we’re buying has only 1.4 hectares of land (not all of which is considered agricultural) so we cannot see what interest the property truly represents to a farmer or how the land needs to be preserved

2. the immediate surrounding land are all residential

3. the adjacent residential buildings for the most part are all new builds (the small hamlet contains properties from the same era as the farmhouse) but the properties adjacent to the land are all new. This leads one to believe that someone may have their eye on the land for building purposes

4. there was some suspicion back in March as the Town Hall utilized their right to pre-empt the purchase but then quickly withdrew it when it was queried by the vendors notary. No-one knows the exact reason they gave (as they didn’t give one!) which is fishy as now it’s been pre-empted again but by the SAFER! Could this be linked to point 3?

Writing this has been quite therapeutic as the facts are in black and white – we are stuffed unless we can prove one way or another that something dodgy is going on and try and fight it. Of course if everything is legitimate then we must also have a plan b so we have two things to work on:

1. Find out when the SAFER meeting is and seek legal representation (a lawyer) urgently. I have told Mr Piglet that I will look after this as I need to have some role in what is going on to make me feel as if I am doing something rather than just sitting back and accepting the crap that is being thrown at me.

2. Find somewhere to live! Little Miss Piglet is due to arrive and we cannot continue living with my in-laws, 2 hours from our friends in Lyon! We need to find alternative accommodation and quickly! Mr Piglet is going to start hunting this week for a rental property that can accommodate us, our furniture and the baby as soon as she arrives. Just what we needed!

So there you have it! The latest saga in our quest to purchase a property in the French countryside and after months and months trying, we’re still not any closer to realizing our dream. Rather off putting isn’t it? Mafia and Barons spring to mind, maybe I’ll write a book when this is all over, who knows…

PS. Buying French property isn’t usually this hard – our first property purchase was easy and took just two months.

Find out more about the SAFER here

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Last Saturday I was praying for the Volcanic Ash cloud to stay away and yesterday I was praying for it to come back so that we could stay in our Paradise for a little longer. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be and I am now consoling myself in the Lyonnais sun, knowing that I’ll be going back to the Western Algarve in just 4 weeks so I’m now back to hoping that that Icelandic volcano that no-one can pronounce stays away again.

My Suitcase

I’ve unpacked and have spent the morning wondering how men can travel so lightly? How on earth do they do it? I was quite proud of myself last week when packing, as my pile of clothes on the bed waiting to be packed appeared to be quite small compared to what I had been used to packing over the years. I congratulated myself thinking that my sailing trip last winter where our baggage was restricted in size and quantity had done me some good. Maybe, but not as much as Hubby! He put me to shame and my pile seemed like a mountain next to his little hill.

I was so worried that he really hadn’t taken enough clothes and had forewarned my Mum that we would need to do some washing. He had packed 1 swim shorts, 4 t-shirts, 4 shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 jumper, a pair of Crocs and had jeans which he was travelling in.

I on the other hand packed 4 dresses, 2 bikinis, 7 tops, 2 pairs of trousers, 3 pairs of shoes, 2 beach wraps, 4 jumpers/cardigans plus the clothes and shoes I was travelling. This really didn’t seem like a lot and I definitely had plenty to wear, but unpacking the suitcase now I’ve realised that half of it has gone unworn! I was never a Girl Guide but did go to the Brownies a couple of times so could it be them that trained me to pack for every eventuality?

Our suitcase weighed in at 25 KG so I’ve made a mental note to myself that if I ever travel Ryanair I will have to get Hubby to do my packing, otherwise my excess baggage charges may just be as much as my ticket! Thankfully we were travelling Easyjet so no problems, how I love Easyjet!

What really annoys me though, is that I had left a load of my toiletries in Portugal to save weight in the suitcase and to save me having to pack them again in 4 weeks time. Shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen… you name it, I’ve left it there to make more room in my suitcase (for more shoes maybe?). I was seriously regretting the sunscreen this morning though as I’d vowed in my quest against ageing never to go in the sun without adequate protection again and to my horror, this morning I realised that I had left all my sunscreen in Portugal bar my special factor 50 face cream!

Determined to be able to enjoy the sun whilst respecting my resolution to protect my skin, I searched amongst the hundreds of lotions and creams I appear to collect and eventually came up with some spray on sunscreen, factor 20. Perfect I thought, until I started spraying it on. A weird odour of celery caught my nose before the stinging sensation on my skin started. I think the lotion has turned into a celery scented vinegar! Anyway, it’s on now and I’m writing this sitting in the sun and so far no adverse affects…

Jims British Market

Jims British Market
When we arrived back in Geneva yesterday, I remembered that there was a British supermarket not to far away so I convinced Hubby to take us there on the way back to Lyon. Battling with TOM TOM who did not appear to want to go anywhere, yet alone a British supermarket we eventually made it there and I entered into English heaven as I explored the aisles of food and delights.

I noticed how brightly coloured all the packaging was compared to French supermarkets and everything just seemed to scream BUY ME, YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ME! I was shocked by the prices, everything was so expensive but compared to some of the websites some people here had suggested at least I wasn’t having to pay excessive delivery charges and I suppose that Jim (whoever he is) had gone to the trouble of getting all this to France to start off with so given the price of petrol these days and the fact that he is a French business, mark up does have to be high for him to even begin making a profit!

Anyway, not put off by the prices I indulged in several items such as proper bacon, tomato and onion relish, sticky toffee pudding, Kettles Crisps (how good are they compared to the skinny Lays crisps in France!), Angel Delight, Lazy chilli and my favourite, a chicken and mushroom pie amongst other items.

I did notice that they didn’t have any Cadburys Cream Eggs with dismay, but it’s not really the season and I am well stocked up again thanks to my Mum and Dad who made sure that they bought me some more stock 🙂

Jim’s British Market & Tea Room Website

So this morning, not only am I sitting in the sun all relaxed and covered in sunscreen, but I’ve also enjoyed a somewhat English breakfast of bacon, egg and tomatoes!

Yummy Breakfast!

More yummy - with delish HP sauce!

Now I think I’ll have a go on the Google Pacman they’ve set up to celebrate Pacman’s 30th anniversary – you can actually play it by using your arrow keys, quite addictive! Gosh, who’d have thought I’m nearly as old as Pacman? I hope I haven’t aged as much as that game has!

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If you’re female and in France right now, the likelihood is that you’re breaking the law as you’re reading this. Not because my blog is illegal but because you’re wearing something illegal.

Whilst the Burqa hasn’t as yet been outlawed, women wearing trousers has and has been for a long time now.

Due to an archaic law dating back to 1800 women wishing to dress as men (this is wear the trouser wearing part comes in) are supposed to request authorization from the police first. A later amendment to the law allowed women to wear trousers if holding horses’ reins and then a further amendment was made for those riding a bike. Technically, if you’re not carrying out any of the aforementioned activities you’re in illegal territory.

The icing on the cake has to be that even as recently as 2003 when a request was made to the French Equality minister for the law to be changed, they won’t do it. So much for a country which tries to promote gender equality!

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Just before I left the blogosphere for a while, I was honoured to discover that Keith at A Taste of Garlic had written up a great review of PigletinFrance and I had been meaning to post a link to it on here. Better late than never I suppose. Thanks Keith!

I’m not going to try and review his site, I would never do it justice and I have never read so many funny reviews as I have over on there. If you love French related blogs, visit now; although you will be in danger of exploding the number of blogs you bookmark – you have been warned!

Ps. Just whilst writing this I think my spellcheck must be way out of date as it doesn’t recognise the word blog, it keeps wanting to correct to bog. Does anyone else have this problem?

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Photo by Barrysmissen on Flickr

Or should I say, screamer! I mean this is a total scream isn’t it? Given that most summer jobs in France are low paid, the possibility of earning £750 a week to rub sun screen on peoples back on the beach is amazing!

I stumbled upon this article on The Telegraph website a few weeks ago and it has been in the back of my mind ever since.

Apparently, the seaside resort of Les Sables d’Olonne is looking to employ one man and one women to apply sun screen to beach goers during the peak six week holiday period. That’s £4500 for 6 weeks work, not to mention just working 35 hours a week. Way more than I ever earned in a student job!

Not that I’d ever have wanted to spend my holidays rubbing sun screen into peoples backs! EURK! That would be so gross, I’m totally grossed out just thinking about it.

Anyway, for those that are interested, you have until 26th May to send a CV and video in which you need to explain why you would be good for the job!

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Je ne veux pas travailler… I have been singing this song all week for reasons unknown to myself other than the fact that my subconscious mind has been telling me I don’t want to work (obviously !).

But it seems I was not the only one. France has been gripped by strike fever this week!

The French certainly do know how to cause chaos. Although, I have to admit, I have hidden in my house all week and not noticed any of the goings on, apparently this week has been major strike week. How can I possibly live in France and not notice something as major as this?

Okay, so apparently, this week the strikes have been:

Bus and tram drivers
As I work from home I’m not directly affected by this (thankfully) but when they’re on strike it generally means maximum disruption and has dreadful knock on effects. I don’t know why they’re striking this time, they do strike often so maybe someone can enlighten me?

Striked on Thursday in order to protest about lack of resources and growing number of patients (okay so I knew about this one because my GP told me! He was all excited about having a day off!). There are loads of GP’s in France and they offer the best medical care I know of, in anycase far far better than the UK. Maybe they should spend some time there?

Secondary school teachers
On strike today. I don’t know why they’re striking either…

Dustbin collectors – on strike from today until who knows when….
The bin men are complaining that their jobs are dirty (no way! I would never have guessed that if I was applying for a job to a bin man!) and that they are not satisfied with the 1% pay rise they received in January. They also want to lower the pension age.
In Lyon our bins are collected every day from outside of our property. Compared to the UK where many areas only have collections twice a month this is a luxury so they’ll have to strike a long time before I’ll miss them. As for the UK, that’s really gross and politicians and councils should be ashamed.

Magistrates & Lawyers
I couldn’t care less about Magistrates and Lawyers. All they ever do is take money (my money) and there is never much result! As my husband says (more eloquently in French) “the French legal system is a circus, animated by clowns and jugglers!”.

Prison Wardens
mmmm, a bit worrying seems as people frequently escape from prisons in France (or maybe its just me that thinks this?).

There’s also another National Strike planned for 23rd March the aim of the game being to cause maximum disruption to everyone in France and bring the country to a standstill. Last time there was a National Strike no-one I know bothered going to work except for yours truly as I work from home!

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24 hours without us - Day without immigrants

24 hours without us - Day without immigrants

Today is a special day for me. It is a day where all immigrants in France are supposed to protest and not make any purchases in order to show the French what a day without immigrants would be like.

Quite a dangerous idea but the principal is that a lot of immigrants do menial jobs and account for quite a chunk of the working population.

As a Brit I don’t experience much open racism (thankfully) but I do feel the scorn towards foreigners and I can only imagine what it must be like for some foreigners living here.

I will be joining the protests at lunch time for two hours for one reason only: I want to vote! I pay my taxes here and therefore my voice should count. As the Spanish immigrants said in the 2006 protests in the US – NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!

Find out more here

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Found this link and thought it may be helpful to some of you at some point:

Getting Free Legal Advice in France.

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