Category Archives: Living in France

Ask Leroy: Brexit or Bremain?

Professor Doctor Leroy Desfrites

Doctor Leroy Desfrites

Many Frogsiders readers have been finding the arguments for and against British membership of the EU confusing, uninformative, and boring.  We have invited Professor Dr Leroy Desfrites, the Frogsiders expert on everything, to answer some of your most urgent questions.

Question from Tarquin:

Dear Professor,  I have lived in France for several years but my car is still registered in Britain and I don’t speak any French except to order a beer or steak frites.  How should I vote in the referendum?

Bonjour Tarquin, Are you sure you are living in France?  Are you sure you are British?  I think maybe you a a bit too dumb to vote.  My advice to you is to stay put and watch the football.  Do not even consider voting.

Lady sings the blues - Nikki Yanofsky

Question from Miranda:

Hello Professor, Do you remember me?  We were very close friends once.  I am now a single mother living in France on a small income.  Will I lose my UK benefits and have to ask the father of my child for support if the UK leaves the EU?  

Bonjour Madame, I think you have me confused with some other person called Leroy Desfrites.  I don’t care how you vote and I suggest you return immediately to Britain.  Please don’t try to contact me again.

aaarghquizQuestion from Arthur:

Hey up, Prof, In the event of Brexit, should I consider claiming Romanian nationality in order to be able to stay in France with all the benefits of EU citizenship?  My grandmother was born there, so I think I can get a Romanian passport in return for only a small bribe.

Salut, Arthur, The danger of taking Romanian nationality is that you will have only a 50:50 chance of remaining out of jail.  Statistically 50% of your countrymen who settle in or visit France are locked up.  You should hope that Britain dos not leave the EU, and certainly vote Remain.


You invest your way - and I'll invest in mine!

Question from Jock:

Professor, I am Scottish. I want Scotland to leave the UK, but not the EU.  How should I vote?

Hello Jock, Do what the Scots have always done.  Take advantage of what seems to be the best opportunity to latch onto the most likely looking source of wealth and prosperity and vote tactically to achieve the result you want.  Hundreds of years ago Scotland was allied with France against the English, because you didn’t like them and obviously France was richer and had better wine.  Then the British built an Empire, and clearly it made sense to cash in on the wealth that could be stripped from it, so you joined with them in a Union, and your shipbuilding, textile, engineering, mining, distilling, publishing and other industries made fortunes from easy access to the British Empire.  Without this brilliant strategy your country would have been left behind to become the Albania of Northern Europe.

Scotland’s best bet now is to encourage the English to vote for Brexit, then call for an independence vote and become a province of Germany within the EU.  (You Scots could have done this years ago when Rudolf Hess flew to Scotland to negotiate just such a deal – but maybe you were wise not to at the time).

Of course, when you are all speaking German, the rest of the people of the British Isles will not understand anything you say.  So no change there, then.

french maidQuestion from Chantal:

Bonjour Prof, I am a poor French girl but want to live in UK where I hear there are a lot of opportunities for a girl with my physical talents.  Unfortunately I have no formal professional or academic qualifications.   If Britain votes for Brexit, how would I be able to get in under their proposed “points scheme” for immigrants?

Ah, Chantal, that is an easy one!  Just get in a rubber dinghy and paddle over to Dover.  Throw your passport away into the sea, and, when you get to England, tell them you are a refugee.  All your problems will be over.







New Ferry Service To Boulogne? Euroferries Express Says Yes!

Nova Star ._New ferry link puts Boulogne back in limelight
BOULOGNE’S new ferry link with Kent signals the town’s comeback after years in the shadow of Calais, according to the Euroferries Express company, who plan to operate between Ramsgate and the French port.

Per Staehr, Shareholder and Board Adviser said “We are pleased that we will be well placed to reactivate France/UK service utilising the recently commissioned Nova Star RoPax and further look forward to making additional announcements regarding the introduction to the Channel of our High Speed vessel plans.”

The President and CEO, Mark Amundsen of Nova Star Cruises Ltd welcomes the vessel deployment, for which there has been strong interest, and we are pleased to have reached agreement with Euroferries Express Ltd and look forward to working closely with them.

Civic chiefs in Boulogne expect an overdue renaissance of a town for centuries loved by the British but side-lined for nearly 10 years by massive investment in its northern rival.

The important day visitor as foot passenger, car user or the traditional coach visitors all now use Calais and head south to Boulogne. Coaches still make the trip but nowhere near as many as when there was a direct link and for foot passenger this destination has long gone.

The specialist shops and restaurants that are part of the charm of Boulogne and so attractive to Kentish visitors remain ready to receive this traditional visitor.

New shops will be opened in the terminal; the new 4km dual carriageway already links Gare Maritime with the national motorway to Paris and north Belgium.

The completion of the 9m Euro Port project makes the London-Dover-Boulogne-Paris journey quicker than going via Calais. In a few years’ time, the port redevelopment scheme with hotel, casino and shops is set to forge closer links between town centre and port.

The President of Boulogne Chamber expects 3.5 million passengers a year to use the new service and terminal.

“For Boulogne people, the link was psychological and economic. The announcement about the link, will have people of Boulogne smiling again.”

He accepts that some 80 per cent of passengers will be British. “Our challenge is to increase the number of French people going to Kent,” he said. He is keen to promote social and educational links between Boulogne and Kent, especially Ramsgate and Canterbury.

Boulogne has held a place in the affections of Kentish people for many years. While they may go to Calais and Cite Europe for Tesco and Auchan, the new terminal shops will be very convenient, and the Francophile with love of fine French cheeses, fine old architecture and character gravitate to Boulogne to experience the excellent selection of restaurants.


Boulogne’s new hub port
Massive re-development has taking place at the port of Boulogne, with a new ferry terminal now completed.

The ferry berth at the new terminal, named the Hub Port, is prepared for Euroferries Express NOVA STAR, due to use for the first time this autumn to Ramsgate with its commercial port adjacent to the Marina and Victorian seaside town; ready to meet demand for increased passenger and freight in the SE.

New facilities have been provided for British and French border controls, as well as all the other accommodation required in support of a modern port terminal.

Frogsiders View

We seem to have heard all this before – on several occasions, and we understand that the Port of Ramsgate authorities have yet to approve the plans.  However, the willingness of Boulogne to invest in the much needed improvements to the ferry terminal infrastructure and facilities is encouraging.  Let’s hope it happens this time.



DIY Maintenance at a French Holiday Gite

picnic-table-300x225 We usually plan to do our out-of-season gite maintenance work at the end of each holiday season. Normally it’s a combination of minor replacements (of small electrical equipment, furniture, etc) and buildings maintenance (redecoration, interior or exterior painting, flooring, replacement of fittings and major equipment) and it gets done sometime between Christmas and Easter.

But, in reality, keeping up with the general wear-and-tear maintenance is an ongoing job – it never stops. We had already planned to replace the picnic table on the patio at our seaside gite Sandboys Dune before the start of next year’s letting season, and then, suddenly, the job became more urgent. The old timbers in its benches and table-top began to sag. The rot had finally weakened the most exposed wooden parts beyond repair, and it was no longer capable of seating a family for an outdoor meal.

Initially I thought of simply buying a new picnic table. This one was 8 years old, after all. When I found out how much that was going to cost I began to consider more economical (and ecological) alternatives.

On close inspection it was clear that the base of the table was relatively sound and that it was only the table-top and benches that needed replacement, so I went out and bought 15 euros worth of pine planks. These needed cutting down from 3 metres to 1.5 metres – done in a jiffy with my Bosch PKS 40 Circular Saw. Then these pieces needed cutting down from 22cm wide to 10cm – easy again with the same tool. Some 5 cm wide pieces were needed too – piece of cake! (anyone from Bosch want to sponsor this blog?).

Having cut all the right pieces and stained and varnished them ready to be installed, I took a look at the base section. It was in pretty good shape, but there were some design flaws which gave it a tendancy to wobbliness. With some deft cutting and shaping (VonHaus Mitre Saw, Stanley Surform, Ryobi Electric Sander)– come on you big DIY brands, blog sponsorship is still available!! I installed some bracing that completely eliminated the original instability. More stain and varnish – job done!

One week later, the totally refurbished, sleek and glossy picnic table is back at Dune, ready for another 8 or 10 years.

By then I reckon it will only have cost our gite budget 2 euros a year in capital and maintenance costs – and even then it might only need a couple of cheap pine planks to last 8 more years.


Great Tool Bargains at the Amazon DIY & Tool Store!

Local Website Developer reports booming business

Local website designer Patrick Hay says he is delighted with a recent rush of orders for new websites.  With 12 years of website development behind him , Patrick believes he may be one of the most experienced website creators in the region, and claims that all his clients are referred to him by word of mouth.

Le-Tearoom website designed by Patrick Hay

“I commissioned a website for my own marketing business back in the 1990s,” he said, “It cost a lot and I was never really satisfied with it, so when I needed a site for my gite holiday business in 2003, I decided to use my own experience in marketing and advertising together with my ability to use computers for design work.  The result was that I got a site that really did the job I wanted it to do, rather than a flashy design stuffed with distracting gimmicks.  Now I try always to provide my clients with the same focus on their objectives, and an emphasis on pared down functionality rather than showing off with trick graphics.”

You can judge yourselves by checking out his two latest sites Peter Wyart Art, and Le Tearoom, both of which are businesses based in the Pas De Calais region.

What’s next?  Patrick says he is currently working on a site for a well-known London-based film producer.

If you need a website for yourself or your business contact Patrick on 03 21 05 19 77

Anglican Church Boulogne ~ February newsletter

The latest edition of the Anglican Church, Boulogne Congregation newsletter is now available.  It contains news of services, social events, a Diocesan appeal, a recipe for a traditional Polish Shrove Tuesday (or Thursday, in Poland) treat, and much more.

You can download it by clicking on the link below.

February 2013 Boulogne Anglican Church Congregation Newsletter

7VSG – lots of events planned

We’ve just received details of the full programme of events that is planned by the 7 Valleys Social Group. In case you’re not on their mailing list, we’re reproducing their newsletter here:

Line Dancing.
We are pleased to announce the start of our regular Line Dance evenings – the first being on Wednesday 25th April. Our Line Dance teacher Suzi will be in attendance to show you the steps and organise the dances. The cost of participation is 4€ pp to be paid on each night. The evenings will comprise two one hour sessions starting at 7.30pm with a break at 8.30pm. Doors open 7pm. Why not make a night of it and bring your friends too!
All our Line Dance dates until the summer holiday break are:
Wednesday April 25th
Wednesday May 9th
Wednesday May 23rd
Wednesday June 13th
Wednesday June 27th
Did you know? … Line dancing is not only a huge amount of fun, but very good exercise too!

Club summer opening arrangements – Every Wednesday evening through July & August.
For the convenience and enjoyment of our members and their family/guests the club will be open every Wednesday evening during July and August. All the club facilities will be available including games, pool table and bar.
(Special dates within this period are: July 11th BBQ and August 27th BBQ.)

Murder Mystery Night at the 7VSG Club Room — Saturday May 5th (hurry – only a few places left)
A chance for you to figure out ‘who dunnit’ and enjoy a fun filled evening into the bargain. At various times throughout the evening our drama group will be unfolding a Murder Mystery. Someone in the room is the murderer, but who? Only the ‘murderer’ him/herself will know. This event will be strictly limited to 30 places, so do please book and pay for your places early. The meal will be a cold carvery including wine, starter, main course, dessert and coffee. Vegetarian available by prior arrangement. 10€ pp inclusive … Contact Sandra on

Drama Group.
It’s all systems go for our drama group who are at present rehearsing for an Old Time Music Hall which will be performed in the summer. They are also engaged in preparations for our next Panto which already looks like it will be a lot of fun. It’s not too late for you to join our drama group. People are always needed for on stage, back stage and techies. No previous experience needed.

Local Brocantes.
Thanks to Sandra our website ‘local brocantes’ page is now updated for 2012:

Club information and 7VSG programme for 2012 (plus events and special summer holiday opening times)

Fabulous modern chateau style house ~ price now reduced

The "White House" at Conchil Le Temple - For Sale

The British owners of the superb modern chateau-style “White House” at Conchil Le Temple are preparing to sell in order to retire to another part of France.  They have recently announced a price reduction from €769,000 to €720,000 (around £600,000)

The house, which sits in its own 2.5 acre wooded grounds, has 6-8 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 2 shower rooms, as well as a Grand Salon of 80 sq.m., a large formal dining room, a smaller private dining room, a library, a study/office, a gym,  laundry room, wine cellar, and an integral garage for up to 6 cars!

The former staff apartment, in part of the west wing of the White House, is currently being used as an independent one-bedroom holiday apartment, to provide the present owners with an annual income of over 10,000 euros, but these rooms could be used equally well as a granny flat, self contained student accommodation, or even as professional office/consulting room space.

Only ten minutes from the fabulous beaches at Berck and Fort Mahon, the White House is also conveniently situated for travel to London, Paris and Brussels .  It can be reached by car in less than one hour from the Channel Tunnel, and less than two hours from Paris Charles De Gaulle airport.

More detailed information can be found on the White House website

Living in France

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