Category Archives: French News Items

New rules for driving in France

A personal breathalyser from Amazon £2.82

A new law aimed at reducing road deaths and injuries takes effect in France this spring. It will require all drivers to carry a breathalyser kit in their car. Kits are reported to be available at under €5 and the penalty for not having one could be a fine of around €17.

The question is whether this measure will have the desired effect. Will it reduce drinking and driving, or will the universal ability to measure blood alcohol content by means of a personal breathalyser lead drivers to try keep drinking right up to the point where they are just a fraction below the legal limit?

Will it, in fact lead to more drink driving rather than less?

Some relief for second home owners ~ but no free lunch

FOLLOWING resistance from property owners the French Government has withdrawn its original proposal to scrap ‘taper’ relief, proposing instead to considerably lengthen the qualification period.

A source of non-taxed income for many French homeowners, taper relief has previously meant any gains realised on the sale of a second home owned for more than fifteen years were exempt from taxation.

Expected to apply to all sales signed after 25 August this year, the government originally announced that the annual 10% taper relief available after five years of ownership would be abolished, but are now proposing to retain the relief, but increase the amount of time it takes to gain the non-taxable status to 30 years of ownership.

Virginie Deflassieux, Associate Director of PKF (Channel Islands) Limited’s French Tax department said this amendment to the recent proposal did not come as a surprise.

“The resistance to this suggestion was inevitable as it would have resulted in harsh changes to the gains arising from the sale of second homes. The government are now proposing to increase the qualification period for taper relief resulting in a gains exempt status after 30 years of ownership, a compromise that may satisfy owners who have already owned their properties for a considerable period of time.

“This new measure will not only affect individuals with French holiday homes. French residents who own second homes – in France or abroad – will also be subject to the new rules,” said Miss Deflassieux.

The amendments also introduces a requirement for French residents to report, via a French notaire, within a month of completion, the sale of shares in property-holding companies or entities holding French or foreign real estate taking place after 1st November 2011.

The proposed new taper relief rates are 0% for the first five years, 2% between 5 and 16 years, 4% between 17 and 24 years and 8% thereafter. The proposal applies to sales realised from 1 February 2012 and also in relation to properties transferred into a family owned Société Civile Immobilière, “SCI”, an entity that does not primarily trade but is often used to acquire and hold properties in France from 25 August 2011.

“There is still time for the French government to make further amendments to their proposals and there may be more changes introduced in the course of any further deliberations,” said Miss Deflassieux.

New “plus-value” proposal could mean more tax on sale of French holiday homes

More tax to pay if you sell your French holiday house?

Owners of holiday homes in France are being advised to review their tax arrangements following new proposals by the French government.

The proposals will affect the taxation of gains arising from the sale of second homes by scrapping the ‘taper’ relief of 10% per year of ownership, when determining the taxable gain on these properties. This taper relief currently applies after an initial holding period of five complete years.  The result is a nil taxable gain after fifteen years.

The proposed changes would come into effect for any property sold after 25 August 2011 and if introduced would not only affect French residents who own second homes in France or abroad, but also individuals with French holiday homes.

Virginie Deflassieux, Associate Director of French Tax at PKF (Channel Islands) Limited said: “These changes will impact on anyone with property interests in France. It will no doubt be opposed in some quarters as it will come as a shock to property owners, some of whom have deliberately retained ownership of their properties to take advantage of the taper relief. Therefore the retrospective grasp of this measure may well be challenged during the consultation and voting process.

“Nevertheless it will be important for investors and property owners to review their arrangements.”

Earlier this year the government had attempted to tax non-residents on their French properties. The new tax which was going to be levied at 20% of the property’s cadastral value never made it to the vote as it was met by strong opposition.

Red Cross Coffee Morning: words and pictures

Madame Potel Red Cross, Montreuil

Madame Potel of the Red Cross, Montreuil branch (right) teaches Diana Wood the correct way to gesticulate when singing in French

The Red Cross Coffee Morning held at Patrick and Sue Hay’s house in Conchil Le Temple raised a total of €523,  which has been shared equally between the Red Cross branches at Hesdin and Montreuil.

For the most part the weather was dry and warm.  Just a light splash of rain to interrupt the golf pitching competition, but not before Matthew Van Dyk had won a prize.  Diana Wood provided live music, including some lovely “chansons”, greatly appreciated by the French in the audience, and there were enough cakes to feed an army.

Red Cross coffee morning guests

The top people were all there

Many thanks to everyone who came and supported the event, especially those who baked cakes, worked on the books, coffee, and bring-and-buy stalls and to the artists and musician for their cultural contributions.

All photographs here were taken by Roger Di Vito.

Red Cross coffee morning guests

I caught one this big! Not that size really matters, of course

Red Cross coffee morning guests

Mme Potel, Mme Rossignol and Mme Bastien and their friends - strong supporters of the Red Cross in Montreuil and Hesdin

2011 Fête de la Gastronomie

If you are planning to be in France on 23 September, come hungry.  Le Parisien reports that that’s the new date for the “Fête de la gastronomie.”

Restaurant diners will be able to take a look behind the scenes, visit kitchens and taste seasonal produce.

Food growers, winemakers and cooking schools will also participate in the event.

Denis Baupin: a shining example of brevity and clarity

Paris is planning to test restrictions on gas-guzzling vehicles, probably including “sport utility vehicles” (those big 4wheel drive American-style pickup truck things), as part of attempts to curb pollution.

Denis Baupin, an environmental official in the mayor’s office, said that sport utility vehicles and old diesel cars are likely to be targeted in planned test restrictions. To any Parisian who drives an SUV, Baupin’s advice is: “Sell it.”

Electric car fleet for Paris in 2011

Paris is to get a fleet of eco-friendly electric cars which will cost users no more than a tube fare to use. Bertrand Delanoe, the mayor of Paris announced this week that the “Autolib” scheme will start next autumn.

The mayor hopes Autolib will be as popular as Vélib, the highly successful bike rental scheme he introduced in 2007, which has been copied by cities around the world including London. Before committing to the project the city collected evidence that it would be likely to be both useful and economically viable – the average car in the capital spends about 95 per cent of its time parked – only 42 per cent of Parisians own a car – 16 per cent use theirs less than once a month – and, according to surveys, 2.4 million people in the Paris area intend to use the system which requires only 160,000 to 200,000 subscribers to become economically viable.

This week it was confirmed that a four-seat vehicle made by the French company Bolloré had been selected for the Autolib scheme. 3,000 of the distinctive Bolloré “Bluecar” battery-powered vehicles will be placed at 1,000 self-service ranks across Paris and the suburbs.

The scheme will cost 12 euros per month for annual subscribers, who will then be required to pay five euros for the first half-hour of use, four euros for the next and six for every extra 30 mins at the wheel. The idea, as with Vélib, is to encourage short trips. One-off weekly subscriptions will cost 15 euros and daily passes 10 euros.

The Bluecar, designed by Bolloré’s Italian partners Pininfarina, has a maximum speed of 130kph (around 80mph), a range of around 250km (155 miles) and its lithium metal polymer battery will take four hours on average to charge. It is fitted with satnav and an emergency call button – for use in the event of breakdown, we assume. Drivers will be able to book via internet, phone or at stations, and can book arrival parking spots in advance.

Having used and enjoyed the Vélib scheme, Frogsiders suspects that Paris will soon be able to celebrate another successful transport innovation.

Paris noise remedy – two birds with one stone?

Delanoe's remedy for sleepless nights?

When Paris banned smoking in bars and clubs three years ago, no one foresaw one of the less desirable side-effects: late-night clubbers and party-goers spilling onto the streets in crowds to smoke – and
keeping the neighbours awake with their laughter and chatter.

After a number of lawsuits against bar and club owners, and steps by city authorities to shut down noisy clubs, a group of DJs and club promoters launched a petition warning that the world-famous Parisian night-life would die out if no compromise could be reached.

This week the Mayor of Paris called a conference at which club owners, police, residents’ groups and local authorities would put their point of view, and, together, try to hammer out a solution.

“Partying and culture is part of what makes Paris shine,” Mayor Bertrand Delanoe told the gathering on Friday, admitting, however, that fostering a vibrant night-life while respecting residents’ right to peace and quiet would be a tough challenge.

“We Parisians are demanding, and even contrary,” he said. “On a night you’re staying in, you’d like a curfew at 8 pm. But when you’re in the mood to party, you want the right to make a racket until 8 am.”

Starting this spring, Paris will send out squads of white-faced mimes and red-nosed clowns to nudge punters into keeping the noise down, an alternative to sending in the police. The project is modelled on a successful experiment in Barcelona.

“It’s about getting the message across with a dose of humour,” said Mao Peninou, the deputy mayor in charge of the project.

This time there may be an entirely beneficial side-effect for visitors to Paris to look forward to. Plentiful late-night work for dreadfully un-entertaining mimes might just keep them off the Paris streets in daytime.

  • HK Fat Cats looking to buy in France

    Pierre & Vacances properties at Fort Mahon

    There might be good news today, if you are thinking of selling a house in France – a new tax treaty with Hong Kong has made it more attractive for Hong Kong residents to buy-to-let in France.

    Technically it’s a double taxation treaty between Hong Kong and France and it was signed by John Tsang, Hong Kong’s financial secretary and Christine Lagarde, the French minister of economy, industry and employment, after nearly a decade of negotiations between the two governments. The news has been welcomed by French property agencies, as it makes the purchase of French real estate easier for expats based in Hong Kong.

    Nick Leach, director of Pierre & Vacances property investment arm said: “Hong Kong is one of our most important expat markets alongside Dubai and Singapore. We have plenty of interest from bankers and lawyers based out in Hong Kong, who have a considerable amount of disposable income, and are looking for attractive investment opportunities.

    The Fat Cats from HK like this kind of property!

    “France, in particular, has always attracted the expat investor, with Paris and the Alpine region proving particularly popular with Hong Kong investors. And now that another tax barrier has been removed, we are bracing ourselves for a big rise in interest from the expat investor community in Hong Kong.”

    John Busby, director of Athenamortgages.com, a French mortgage broker, said he was also expecting the treaty to increase interest in French property from expat investors based in Hong Kong. “We experienced a similar spike in interest from buyers and agents in the Channel Islands, when a tax treaty with France was agreed earlier this year,” he said.

    The treaty is expected come into effect in 2011, so, if you’re thinking of buying rather than selling, it might be a good idea to get in now, ahead of the Hong Kong fat cats.

  • Fuel Prices and Availability

    Thanks to Sarah Bing for sending us he following very useful information.

    Petrol prices and availability. With all these ongoing strike problems, there is a useful website which is currently showing where petrol is available. Have a look at www.zagaz.com. It normally shows the retail price of petrol i.e. which garage nearest you has the cheapest fuel however at the moment it is also showing where the stocks are affected.


  • Human Rights and the Roma

    So far Frogsiders has made no comment on the clearing of “Roma” encampments in France and the repatriation of their gypsy inhabitants to Romania.

    Now, however, it’s time to get this matter into perspective.  Something that evidently the Gypsy leader, Iulian Radulescu, does not want to happen.

    Gypsy "leader", Iulian Radulescu

    He recently compared French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Romania’s pro-Nazi wartime dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu.  Radulescu suggested the expulsions were similar to those carried out by Antonescu’s regime in 1942, when 25,000 gypsies were deported from Romania to the Soviet region of Trans-Dniester. Some 11,000 of them died from exposure, typhus, starvation and thirst.

    “Sarkozy is doing what Antonescu did,” Radulescu said.  Newspapers around the world (literally) have actually printed this ridiculous Continue reading “Human Rights and the Roma” »

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