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The French Property Network

Apr 19

How do the French celebrate Easter?

Actually it is not that different to Easter celebrations in other mainly Christian countries, the French however as you would expect also have their own individual Easter traditions. Perhaps it may come as no surprise that given France's obvious culinary talents, many of the Easter traditions include and involve food.

Easter is an important holiday in France and there are lots of traditions that go with Easter so be sure to wish all your friends and colleagues an enthusiastic 'Joyeuses Pâques' (Happy Easter) !

Easter Hen

Easter Weekend:

Good Friday is typically not recognised as a Bank Holiday in France and it is business as normal. Easter does however consist of a long weekend, and in some sectors, a week or two of holidays but generally it is only the Easter Monday that stands out as different to the normal run of things because every Sunday is still a rest day in France where most large shops and business are closed, unlike the UK these days. In addition to having the chance for a holiday, the French also take the opportunities of Easter to include visiting family and friends, and relaxing.

French Easter Morning:

French children have Easter egg hunts on Easter sunday morning. Eggs are usually chocolate ones and not hard-boiled ones, although the French also play games with raw eggs at Easter. A few Easter games exist, such as competitions throwing and catching eggs and seeing who can toss and catch an egg the longest without breaking it. Another game with raw eggs stems from the Catholic tradition in France. In this game, children each take a raw egg and roll them down a hill (simulating the stone rolling from Jesus' tomb). In this symbolic game, the child whose egg travels the farthest without breaking is the winner.

Easter egg hunts are usually for small chocolate eggs. However, French chocolatiers also have a long-standing tradition of creating oversized ornamental chocolate eggs that are given as gifts. These eggs, like most products from French chocolatiers and patissiers, often look too beautiful to eat!

French boulangerie

How Do the French Celebrate Easter with Food:

In addition to the sweets, French families often make very special meals on Easter Sunday. As with all special French meals, it will usually consist of several courses, be accompanied by wine, and finish with a cheese plate and a delicious dessert.

French Easter Menus:

There is a French Easter tradition of serving lamb as the main course on Easter Sunday. While this is not necessarily always the case, many families still observe this tradition by making a rack of lamb braised with an herb rub or sauce. Other main courses would typically be meat, for example a ham or other choice cuts of meat. Turkey, which is very typical of Christmas, would not often be chosen as an Easter main course.

Preceding the main course, a lighter dish is usually served. This may be something like a quiche or perhaps a salad. Though soup is possible, a cold first course is more typical of a traditional Easter menu. Some families may eat both a salad and another first course.

Following the main course, expect a short break in which everyone remains seated at the table drinking wine. This break is usually followed with a traditional cheese plate with baguette. If you are making a French-style Easter dinner outside France, you'll have to rely on a local supermarket for some French cheeses (get a variety: one bleu, one camembert or brie, one harder cheese, and a goat's cheese if you can find it). In France, expect a few popular French cheeses, as well as a few local ones that you may never have seen or heard of before.

Lastly, Easter dinners are topped off with dessert. Very often, the dessert will include some chocolate, but may not be exclusively chocolate, such as a chocolate berry tart or an almond cake drizzled with a chocolate sauce. If you are in France, expect to spend a long time over Easter dinner, it is meant to be enjoyed slowly.

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

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Sep 20

Buying French Property to Renovate and Re-Sell

Question: Dear Sir/Madam, I will be very grateful if you can explain to me the possibility of buying properties which need full repair, repair them and put them on the market for sale again, I spend a long time going through your website and there are many properties but the problem is with the right area and properties in good condition stay on the market for a long time and not selling. Could you please direct me and your advice are appreciated.

Thank you. Best Regards, Dave G.

Answer: Hi Dave, sorry for the delay in replying, I have just returned from holiday, now a long distant memory and back to work!

What you suggest is certainly possible and I know of many people that have done this and still do it. In terms of re-selling the lower value properties tend to move quicker so a typical rural 2 bed cottage with garden for resale value around 50K or so is the best target renovation project and depending on how much work you want to do you can pick up barns for 5K sometimes or ‘projects’ from anything around 10K to 30K+ etc.

The capital gains tax you will have to pay to ‘turn-over’ the projects quickly is based on the profit you make on the sale of course unless you live in each project full time during the renovations and claim it as your principal residence and therefore not subject to capital gains. Or if you really want to make a good living then you could register as a business with the activity 'Marchand de Biens’ which is basically a property developer.

I worked as a 'Maitre d’Oeuvre’ in the Pays de la Loire region of France for 12 years from 2001, basically a Project Manager renovating properties for clients and I did 5 of my own properties during that time, so it is possible to do and rewarding however I would offer a few words of caution!

Buying a run down barn or house, renovating it over time and re-selling it is not as profitable as it is in the UK where in general property prices are higher and the demand is greater. In France in my experience the margin of profit is very small in terms of the amount you tend to spend on materials and specialist artisans such as Plumbers and Electricians perhaps added to the capital outlay for the building itself tends to add up to just a little less than the final value of the property.

Going for grander sized projects would give more scope for profit but the downside is that they take longer to sell.

So in summery I know people who have made a living doing what you are suggesting but I don’t know http any of them have become very rich from the activity but if earning a living doing what you like doing is for you then the lifestyle in rural France and the experience of renovating old properties is not a bad life to lead.

Hope this helps and stay in touch, Many thanks David.

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Aug 17

Driving in France

My earliest Holiday memories are of driving through France and stopping off at small family run hotels when the light started to dim, not booking anywhere just seeing where the road would take us. These are holidays I will never forget.

Many years later I would be the driver of the car and my family would be enjoying the 'carefree' approach that comes with a driving holiday in France. It can be a great way of getting into the heart of the French countryside and experiencing traditional France.

But when you are driving through France there are a few things you need to be aware of.

Did you know that the legal age to drive in France is 18 years of age and even if you have a full licence from another country and you are under that age, then you are still not allowed to drive in France?

Every passenger must wear a seatbelt and it is illegal for a child under the age of 10 to be in the front seat. Babies are allowed to travel in the front passenger seat, but only when placed in an approved rear-facing baby seat and the airbag is turned off.

You must always stop at a zebra crossing, which is enforced by law and when going through a town you will find a lot of them; but you should be very careful when you are the pedestrian, as the French do not seem to obey this rule as much as they should!

Watch your speed!  If you are stopped for speeding you can be fined on the spot and the fines have to be paid in cash there and then, which can be quite expensive.  If you cannot pay or you are travelling more than 25km/h above the speed limit, then your car can be impounded and you could end up with a very hefty fine or even lose your licence. So be careful, especially when on the toll roads, as you do not want your driving holiday to come to an abrupt end!

The motorways are 130km per hour, but this is reduced in bad weather down to 110km per hour and on duel carriageways and main roads the same rules apply, where the speed limit is reduced in bad weather.  A duel carriageway is 110km per hour and main roads are 90km per hour, with the peripherie being 80km per hour and towns or minor roads being a maximum of 50km per hour.  Our top tip to save money would be "don't fill up on the motorway!" Wait until a major intersection near a town or city, and come off the motorway. You will almost certainly find a hypermarket / superstore within a kilometre or so of the exit, offering cut price fuel. The saving can be us much as 15 centimes per litre.

Here are the normal speed limits for driving in France:

  • The normal speed limit on French motorways is 130 km/hr (just over 80 mph). - or 110 km/hr in rain.
  • The normal speed limit on dual carriageways (divided highways) 110 km/hr
  • The normal speed limit on main roads is 90 km/hr (outside built-up areas)
  • The normal speed limit in built-up areas is 50 km/hr – unless otherwise indicated.

The French Government do publish information on exactly where speed traps are located and this is one of the reasons why it is illegal to have a radar detector fitted to your vehicle.

In bad weather, fog etc, even during the day, it is compulsory to use your lights but you do not have to keep your lights on during the day at any other time.

Obviously you must have deflectors fitted to your headlights if you have a right-hand drive vehicle and by law you must have a set of replacement bulbs, a warning triangle and a 'gilet' high visibility waistcoat with you at all times.  But it is always advisable to check the regulations prior to your holiday in France, as they do change from time to time.

Most of the rules are common sense and are the same as in the UK such as it is an offence to hold and use a mobile phone while driving in France. Hands-free use of mobile phones is not illegal. Though many drivers ignore this rule, traffic police are clamping down on drivers holding phones to their ears while driving, and drivers are liable to an on-the-spot fine.

The insurance document is most commonly the "green card", though a standard insurance document from any EU country provides basic insurance for your vehicle (third party cover) throughout the Union, whether or not a green card is provided. Check in with your insurer before you arrive in France to insure you are covered correctly. 

Breakdown or accident: If you are involved in any accident involving two or more vehicles while driving in France, you will be asked to fill in a "constat amiable" (an amiable declaration) by the driver of a French car involved. This is standard practice. If possible, call your insurance company at once on your mobile phone. They may put you in touch with a local French representative. If your car is immobilised on or partly on the road due to a breakdown or an accident, you must set up your red warning triangle at a suitable distance behind the vehicle, to alert approaching traffic to the hazard.

If you are involved in an accident involving any sort of injury - even if it is not your fault - you MUST remain until the police have come.

So, armed with all the essential information you need, and with your vehicle well prepared for the journey, enjoy the experience and the beautiful scenery when you are on your driving holiday in France.

Blog submitted by: David at Cle France.

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Jul 14

Implications of Brexit

Question: Bonsoir, I am wondering if Brexit prevents me from renting or buying a premises in France, in which I can live upstairs, and create a social venture, in the ground floor? Can you advise me please?

Merci, Sandra

Answer: Hi Sandra, thanks for your message...

Brexit is a big question, and quite complex for me to try to answer succinctly: 

but there are quite a few articles on our blog pages on the website from various sources, especially from our legal contacts, so do have a browse over those. 

My own view is that the process of 'BREXIT' will potentially take a number of years to negotiate, and in the meantime nothing changes, British people are  still moving to France to live,  in fact we've just had our busiest month in 8 years.

So the consensus of opinion is that for now not much will change. The  process of withdrawing from the EU will not be a speedy one, and the  residency of those ex-pats living in France and elsewhere in the EU will no doubt form a part of that negotiation process.  

When I moved to France a residency  permit known as the ‘Carte De Sejour’ was required; it was a  relatively straightforward application process (or at least as  straightforward as a French bureaucratic process can be!)  Perhaps this could be re-introduced for British residents in the future, but for now we just don't know. Of course owning homes abroad will remain as it is today, there is no restrictions for non EU members on owning a house in France.

Clearly there remain many questions to be answered, and fine details to be ironed out. But what is becoming apparent is that this will be a long process, possibly years in the making, and we will of  course bring further news as and when it becomes available during the  coming months. But in the meantime life continues much as it always  has done: the British have always lived, worked and retired to sunnier  climes, and that will doubtless continue, even if some administrative aspects of live abroad may change.

Here is a link to 4 articles which we have published on the subject that you may find useful on The Legal Implications of Brexit

Thanks, Alex.

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Jan 26

Preparing For Un Voyage In French

Question: Hi Alex, we are planning a viewing trip with you guys soon, as you know, it will be our first property viewing trip to France gulp! do you have any French phrases / terminology we could use so we don't appear to daft to 'the French'?

thanks Judith C.


Traveling can be difficult when you combine la fatigue à cause du décalage horaire (jetlag) with a language barrier. Before you ever leave though, making sure all your travel arrangements are in order can prove to be quite difficult as well.

Preparing a trip can take a long time. You might know where you want to go and how you want to get there, but sometimes you just do not have le temps to put it all together!

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The first step in la réservation d’un vol (reserving a flight) is looking at votre emploi du temps (your schedule) to see when you can prendre l’avion (take a flight). It can be hard to figure out how to arrange everything when you’re looking at un vol de nuit (a red eye flight) and un décalage horaire (a time difference).

Finding la meilleure relation qualité/prix (the best value for the money) can be hard, especially if there’s un vol at a good price, but it doesn’t fit into votre emploi du temps chargé (your busy schedule)!

While you might not be able to change votre emploi du temps chargé, you can choose your seat, côté couloir ou côté hublot (aisle or window), and le repas (the meal). Airplane food may not be the best, but you can let them know if you want un repas végétarien (a vegetarian meal) in advance.

After spending the time to réserver le vol the next big step is to faire vos valises (pack your bags). Fitting everything you need in une valise (a suitcase) can be the hardest part of la préparation. After stuffing everything into une valise you have to then make sure it meets the requirements of la compagnie aérienne (the airline).

The requirements for le bagage en soute (checked luggage) and le bagage en cabine (carry-on luggage) can change between les compagnie aériennes, but the information is usually easy to find on le site web de la compagnie aérienne (the airline’s website).

After everything is packed all that’s left is getting up at the right time. Once you’re at l’aéroport, it’s best to see if le vol est rétardé (the flight is delayed). If le vol est à l’heure (the flight is on time), the last hurdle is making it through la contrôle de sûreté (the security check) after vous avez enregistré vos bagages (you have checked in your luggage)!

There may be some things out of your control at l’aéroport, but at least you can make sure la réservation is ready and les valises sont faites in advance!

ALSO here’s a list of vocabulary that will help you in France during a viewing trip, although our agents speak English:


Immobilier - Estate Agency

les pièces — rooms (the French don’t use the number of bedrooms as a reference for the capacity of an apartment or house, but rather they count based on the number of habitable rooms, excluding bathrooms and the kitchen)

le loyer — rent

location — rental

la surface — the square footage; area

la maison — house

l’appartement — apartment

le terrain — land

le prêt immobilier — real estate loan, or mortgage

l’impôt immobilier — real estate tax

l’agent immobilier — real estate agent

l’agence immobilier — real estate agency

louer — to rent

acheter — to buy

le bâtiment — the building

le bailleur — the landlord

le bail — the lease

charges (non) comprises — charges (not) included

commission (non) comprise — commission (not) included

le dépôt de garantie — security deposit

meublé — furnished

le propriétaire — the owner

Hope these few words help a little?

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

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