ANGELA BIRD'S

 

 

The
Vendée 

 

 

 


 


The homeowner's page - 1
MONEY MATTERS
including
Paying French tax on rental;
Good travel deals;
Auction rooms in and around the Vendée;
A selection of estate agents

 

Below are links to the four different sections into which I have now divided this part of the site.

 

MONEY

D-I-Y

GARDENING

MISC

 

Rental & tax

drainage

garden centres

Cinema & books

 

auctions

kitchens

trees

communications

 

travel deals

winterising

rubbish

pets

 

estate agents

heritage

weather

talking points

 

 

 

PLEASE NOTE

I am not a financial expert. I am just sharing personal experiences
gained over the years. I am not guaranteeing that any of this advice is correct, is still valid, or would necessarily work in your own case.

I decline any liability for any loss or inconvenience,  however caused.
ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONEY

 

The euro, and ways to transfer money

 

 

1 € (Euro) was the equivalent of about 65p, but is more like parity with the £ now (2009)). 100 € is about £90.
Euro notes are in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 (this last is worth more than £450!).
Euro coins are in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents; and 1 and 2 euros.

 

The French franc is now no longer accepted in shops or banks

 

 

Ways to transfer funds

I can only speak for our own limited experience here - and if anyone wants to add useful information to this section then I'd love to hear from you!

To pay some specific, large bill - to a builder, say, or even to purchase your property in the first place - you can either make a transfer direct to your creditor's bank account (though check that his bank won't make extortionate charges to receive the funds) or ask your UK bank for a banker's draft in euros. It's a cheque in euros, made out by the bank to the person you are having to pay, as opposed to a personal cheque.

To cover running costs of your property, you will probably need to make regular transfers to top up your French bank account. It is illegal to be overdrawn in France, and if an account-holder should go into the red he can be forbidden to have a bank account for several years. So you won’t want to risk your reserves running low while utility companies may be taking their direct debit payments from it each month…

Our UK bank arranges the transfers with very little hassle. You need to have at your fingertips the “IBAN” number, which is the string of figures that identifies your French bank, branch, and account. All this information should be printed on your French bank statement, so take a copy of that along to your UK bank when you are asking them to make any transfer.

In the Charges box, I tick "All charges to be paid by the remitter", which means that we pay all the costs of the transfer at the UK end, and the French bank adds nothing else on. In February 2005 the charges on a £2,000 transfer totalled £22.46 (£20 to the bank, and £ 2.46 for agent). The charges fluctuate according to how much money you send over. It seems to take between two and five working days for the money to reach the French account - even in the age of electronic transfers - so don't leave it to the last minute to top up your account.
I think that there is a top limit of £2,000 that can be sent in this way. Enquire before sending larger amounts.
March 2006: I sent £1,000 to the French bank account very urgently, which cost £20 instead of the £10 it would normally have cost to send this amount. Brilliant service though. I sent it on a Wednesday from the UK, and it was in the French account before lunchtime the next day!

It doesn't seem to be worth opening a UK account in euros, and drawing cheques on that with which to pay for services in France. The banks make a hefty charge on euro cheques between different countries - yes, you would have thought that the whole point of the euro was that it was a common currency - so forget that idea.

 

 

 

 

Currency Fair

Chris Skerry shares his thoughts on another system for transferring money:


If you need to transfer small or large sums of money to and from France, you may find Currency Fair (CF) of interest.  It works by matching people who want to buy a foreign currency with those who want to sell it.  For example, if I want transfer £1,000 into euros, I will be matched by someone who has euros and wants to buy my £1,000.  CF has client bank accounts in all the major countries, so I would pay my £1,000 in to the London account and when my demand was matched I could withdraw my euros from the Paris account.  If you want to transfer a large amount, you may find it is matched by two or more people; you may also find that you get a partial match, and to transfer the balance you have to lower the rate a little or wait till it gets better.  

I have used the service over the past year and found it excellent.  The response to emails and phone calls is fast and efficient, and I have achieved slightly below and slightly above the interbank rate in my transfers.  Currency Fair is subject to the same financial controls as all the other currency exchange services.  Client’s money is held in special accounts which the banks safeguard.  

If you want to use it you will need bank accounts for both currencies.  You have to set up your CF accounts in advance.  Suppose you want to transfer pounds sterling to euros, you need to put the sterling into your CF account by BACS or CHAPS transfer.  Next you need to choose an exchange rate.  Currency Fair will give you a rate which is currently active, and your exchange may go through quickly.  Alternatively you could ask for slightly better than the current rate and wait.  You sterling will sit in the account (without earning interest) until the rate rises enough for a match.  When the transfer has been matched, you will then need to move the euros from your CF account to your bank.  Today (August 2011) they take a 3 euro commission fee on any amount that you transfer.  On a Friday evening all transfers are cancelled and they have to be re-input on the following Monday morning.  This gives the advantage that if some major currency changing event happens over the weekend you are protected, however if the event would have been very much in your favour you have to hope things are much the same on Monday morning.   

So the advantages are that you can get a very good rate of exchange and pay little commission.  If you like being in control, you can manage the whole process in some detail.  If you just want a transfer done reasonably quickly and do not care much about the rate then CF is not for you.  Also if you want a fast transfer, CF is not as quick as an instruction to your bank.  

If you are interested, you could try with a small amount, this is how I started.  The website is www.currencyfair.com <http://www.currencyfair.com> .  Another site which gives the movement of the euro or other currencies is www.ex.com <http://www.xe.com>  .  You can set it to show a graph of your chosen currency at 10 minute intervals.

I have no connection with CF other than as a customer.  I have found it to be good, so I hope you will allow me to give praise where it is due.  

 

August 2011
   

 

 

 

TRAVEL DEALS

 

Air travel

 



There is a new route to Nantes from London City airport with CityJet, a subsidiary of Air France.

EASYJET is operating flights from London Gatwick to Nantes for six weeks in late July and August.


RYANAIR

Ryanair routes to Nantes have now been reduced to just Dublin-Nantes. There are also flights from London Stansted to La Rochelle and to Poitiers (handy for people intending to visit the south or east of the Vendée).
TIP  You can sign up on the Ryanair site, so that you are alerted by email when there are special offers of very cheap – or even free – flights. These usually have to be booked within a couple of days, so you need to act fast…

FLYBE
FlyBe has also been adding new routes to its list. Latest ones include Manchester, Southampton or Birmingham to La Rochelle. They also operate flights to Bordeaux (not that far from the south Vendee) from Bristol, Southampton and Norwich.

BMI
BMI has direct flights to Bordeaux (less than two hours’ drive from the South Vendée) from Manchester (daily April-Sept), and also slightly less frequently from Nottingham and Birmingham. Check here for timetables.


AER ARRAN

AerArran has routes to Nantes, from Manchester and from Cork.
There are also flights to Lorient, in southern Brittany, which could be handy for the north-west Vendée. These are from Cardiff, Cork, Waterford, Galway and Kerry.
THANKS TO MIKE WALTERS FOR THIS INFORMATION

 

Click here for a link to Nantes airport

Click here for a
 link to La Rochelle airport

 
If you find a good deal on flights to Paris from your area, don’t forget that you can pick up the Lille-Nantes TGV at Roissy (the railway station for Paris/Charles-de-Gaulle airport).

Car hire
All the airports offer car hire (even tiny Rochefort, to which Ryanair was flying while the La Rochelle runway was out of service in 2005). Usually there are at least Hertz and Europcar; at Nantes several more companies too. In the past, I have found the best deals by using the CarHire4Less website, which sifts through Hertz, Alamo, Budget, Europcar, Avis etc to find the best deal for your category. A correspondent mentions HolidayAutos as offering excellent deals (it seems to be part of lastminute.com).  Another correspondent recommends Car hire on-line http://www.carhire-online.co.uk/#Car hire company for "great service and excellent prices".
  
TIP 1  The airline companies sometimes say you can rent a vehicle through them at a discount but, before taking that up, its worth checking with the above websites, as you often find that through these even the companies like Hertz can work out cheaper than the airline’s offer.
  
TIP 2  try and fill the car up with petrol/diesel just before delivering it back. You are bound to find it at a cheaper price per litre at a supermarket pump than that which will be charged to you by the car-hire company.

 


Train travel

 


If you take the Eurostar service from London-St Pancras to Lille-Europe, you can simply change platforms at Lille and pick up a TGV connection for the 3.5-hour journey to Nantes, where you can hire a car, or change to a local train for the last leg of your journey on the Challans/St-Gilles line; Montaigu/La Roche-sur-Yon/Les Sables, or Luçon/Fontenay. Travelling on this route, you can leave St Pancras at around 0830 and arrive in Nantes around 1630 local time. Book at least a week ahead to get the best deals.


If you would prefer to travel via Paris, SNCF also runs TGV services to Nantes/ La Roche-sur-Yon/Les Sables-d’Olonne from Paris-Montparnasse (though if you've arrived in the capital by Eurostar, at the Gare du Nord, you'll have to allow time to cross the city to Montparnasse station, towards the south-west side of town). 
For most of these services, you need to book a week or two ahead to get the best deals; count on about £120 return London-Nantes.
  
TIP  Age is an issue on TGV trains in France! If you are over 60 you automatically qualify for a reduction of about 25% on request. 
If you are going to do a lot of train travel in France, it’s worth buying a “Carte Senior” for the equivalent of about £30-£40 as it gives you 50% off most off-peak TGV and local train fares – though not on Eurostar services.

Car hire
It's easy to arrange car hire from railway stations (at Nantes railway station, the car-hire companies are at the south exit (sortie sud)). La Roche-sur-Yon has a branch of Hertz near the station
There are excellent deals to be found through HolidayAutos ; just type in the place you want to collect a vehicle, and the size of vehicle you want, and they do a comparison of the different major companies; then you can book online. NB if you choose Alamo (a US company), you pick your car up from the office of one of the big French companies - Citer, I think.
  
TIP  try and fill the car up with petrol/diesel just before delivering it back. You are bound to find it at a cheaper price per litre at a supermarket than that which will be charged to you by the car-hire company.

 

 

Ferry travel

 


Ferryoffers web site shows cheap Channel crossings, mostly on the short-sea routes (i.e. from Dover, Folkestone or Newhaven). If you don't mind a longer drive in France (about 8 hours to the Vendée from Calais), then there are often some bargains to be had - but double-check to make sure, before booking, as I have hears of people who found they could have had cheaper by going direct to the ferry company concerned.

Companies operating ships on the short sea crossings include P&O & SeaFrance to Calais; NorfolkLine to Dunkerque often the best-value). And of course the slick Eurotunnel service from Folkestone to Calais (Coquelles).
  
TIP There are sometimes special deals on offer to frequent travellers around Christmas, for the following year. In 2004 I paid £390 for five return trips (or 10 single journeys) with Eurotunnel during a calendar year – you can fix the actual travel dates later on - which compared very favourably with their usual high prices.

If you want to make savings on the Western routes (i.e. from Portsmouth or Plymouth), which are continuing to spiral upwards in cost, then there are a couple of possibilities:
Brittany Ferries
Property Owners' Club Annual subscription of £45, gives 33 per cent off most crossings, 10 per cent off meals in restaurant, half-price cabins on certain day crossings, and free breakfast to those booking overnight cabin accommodation, plus three guest vouchers for savings of 15 per cent, for use by friends. You can also join if you are a "frequent traveller".
They sail to Roscoff, St-Malo, Cherbourg and Caen.
P&O Allows shareholders who hold at least £600 nominal of P&O Concessionary Stock by 31 December to qualify for discounts the following year of 50 per cent off Dover-Calais crossings. Holders of £300-£599 of the stock receive half-concessions. They also operate a frequent-travellers' club, so you can get some discount even if you are not a shareholder.
Neither company gives discounts on overnight cabin accommodation.
Condor
, newer on the scene, has a Frequent Traveller Club that offers members a 20% discount on all travel between UK, Channel Islands and the French port of St-Malo. Journeys by fast craft from Poole to St-Malo, via either Jersey or Guernsey (depending on day of the week), take a total of 4.5 hours.

 


Road travel

 

If you are navigating on old maps, you will be mystified by the many new bypasses, roundabouts, dual carriageways and even motorways that are speeding up road travel not only within the Vendée but throughout France.  Not to mention the fact that many motorway exit numbers have been changed.
It really is false economy not to invest in a new map each year, as you can waste a lot of time and temper otherwise.

The final section of the A83 Nantes-Niort motorway, linking Oulmes and Niort - and thence Poitiers or Bordeaux - is now complete.
The A87 now runs all the way from Angers to La Roche-sur-Yon, intersecting with the A83 just near Les Essarts.
Here is a site for general French motorway information; with a page for looking up the various tolls. To locate somewhere specific, or to work out a good route from point A to point B, try the excellent French site http://www.mappy.fr/
  
TIP A UK credit card can be used instead of cash at motorway péage points. You just hand it in to the operator, who swipes it and gives it you back, without any need for you to sign or put in a PIN.

If you are going to spend a lot of time in France, and be doing a good deal of motorway driving – especially if you are on your own in a right-hand-drive car – you might want to invest in an automatic payment device. The added bonus of “télépéage”, as it is called, is that with this box fixed to your windscreen you can sail through the “automatic” péage channel, marked with a “t”, instead of having to queue with the others, and the toll is automatically deducted from your UK credit card. (It’s a bit of a cliffhanger, though, as the “beep” doesn’t sound until the nose of your car is practically touching the barrier!)
I have to admit that heavy traffic is not an issue on the Vendee motorways, but it can be in Northern France and on other motorways like the Paris-Bordeaux one, or Paris-Lyon.
The Liber-t “badge” is available through the Sanef website; you have to pay 30 euros for it (which is allegedly refunded if and when you return the badge), plus 2 euros for each month that you use it (i.e. if you don’t travel on a French motorway for the whole of March and April, you won’t have to pay the 2x2E for those months). Plus, of course, you pay the motorway tolls themselves, which are debited to your UK credit card. It works throughout the whole network of France’s motorways.
In 2005 I signed up for the whole thing through the Sanef website, by UK credit card, and the gadget arrived at my UK address within a week.  (The site is resolutely French though, so non-French speakers may find it hard to use.) It’s as well to keep the silver bubblewrap packaging, as apparently that protects the badge from inadvertently clocking up payments at times when you don’t have it on the windscreen (i.e. if it was in your glovebox, and you were paying your tolls by some other method!).
NOTE: WHEN YOU ARE ISSUED WITH A NEW CREDIT CARD, AS HAPPENS REGULARLY EVERY FEW YEARS, YOU  MUST REMEMBER TO TELL SANEF, OTHERWISE YOUR TOLL BEEPER WILL NO LONGER OPERATE!
You can use it in another car – though as you would have stuck the holder to your first car, you will have to just hold the “badge” up near the top of the windscreen of the second car as you approach the péage. The tolls still of course get debited to the card that you registered.
Don’t forget that the badge could be a target for thieves if left on the windscreen in your absence. They could pinch it, and then merrily scoot about France’s motorways clocking up debits on your credit card…


2004 saw the opening of the (mostly) dual carriageway between La Roche-sur-Yon and Les Sables-d’Olonne, the completion of the Challans northern bypass and the opening of half of the Aizenay bypass (south of the town) on the D948.
There’s also a bypass to the north of La Roche that joins the Bournezeau/Chaize-le-Vicomte road with the Nantes and Noirmoutier roads. (I am hopeless at finding it, myself, but will give better instructions when I have improved…)

The A87 La Roche-to-Angers motorway is now complete.

There are plans for bypasses of Pouzauges and other towns; and for a controversial future bypass of Talmont-St-Hilaire. In the longer term, a motorway linking Fontenay-le-Comte and La Rochelle is under consideration.

In its scheme for the désenclavement, or opening up, of the Vendée, the county council has decreed that no commune shall be located more than 20 minutes from a motorway or dual carriageway. A mixed blessing...

 

 

 

 

AUCTION SALES

 

There are several salerooms (salles des ventes, or hôtel des ventes) in the Vendée that hold regular auctions (ventes aux enchères) of furniture and effects. I have to admit that I have never purchased at one, but I have friends that have furnished their house almost entirely with bargains picked up at Fontenay-le-Comte.
Like notaires, the auctioneer (commissaire-priseur) in France has the title of "maître".

FONTENAY LE COMTE
17, boulevard Chail (tel: 02 51 69 04 10)
Sales, Mon (viewing Sat)

LES SABLES-D'OLONNE
4 bis, rue Beauséjour (tel: 02 51 21 25 65).
Sales, Sat 2.30pm (viewing Fri 3-5pm; Sat 10-11am).
If you're selling, the place is open to drop off furniture Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 2.30-5pm.

 

 

 

 

 

CAR-BOOT SALES (Vide-greniers)

 

Car-boot sales are gaining in popularity – though they are not at all on the scale that they are in the UK.  Nor do they happen as regularly, such as every Sunday. On the whole, they take place in the summer; a village might hold its own once a year.
If you want to locate the nearest one to you, try the vide-greniers website. You can select a particular month from the drop-down menu; everything with a green dot by it is a car-boot sale; those with a red blob are antiques/brocante fairs.
If you click on the individual event in the list, you can usually see how many stands there will be, and how much they cost. Also there is the phone number of the organiser.
The site is for vide-greniers throughout France, so if you fancy trying another département - such as the nearby ones of Loire-Atlantique (44), Maine-et-Loire (49), Vienne (86), or Charente-Maritime (17) you will get an even wider selection

.

 

 

 

PROPERTY RENTAL

 

1. Local taxes
If you are renting out a gite or running a B&B you are supposed to inform your local Mairie who will probably want to charge a "taxe de séjour", a sort of poll tax, for each paying guest. (For the year 2001, our village charged 1F10 for each adult, and 0F 55 for each child per night - but only for July and August.)

2. French tax liability
Rental from a French property has to be declared in France, even if you are permanently resident in the UK. Then you can tell the UK tax inspector that this has been done, and because of the "double taxation agreement" between France and the UK countries you should not be taxed a second time. For our experiences in this, see below:

Please note:
I am not a financial expert and am not setting myself up as an authority
here, merely telling you what we, as non-residents in France, have done in the way of paying French taxes after reading an interesting series of articles in
French Property News.
I can take no responsibility for these details being correct or appropriate in your own case.


IF IN DOUBT, SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.

 

 

The French system seems very simple. You tell them the gross amount of your year's rental. They halve the total amount (to allow for your running costs and expenses), and then charge you 25 per cent of the remainder as tax. If this final amount comes to less that 2,000F (not sure what this will be now it's all in euro) then they deem your liability to be Nil. (But you have to fill up the form anyway.)

THIS INFORMATION IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
I SHALL NOT PERSONALLY BE DECLARING ANY RENTAL INCOME AFTER 2002, SO WILL BE LESS
UP TO DATE WITH THE PRECISE DETAILS OF THE FORMS ETC AFTER THAT.

(1) Write in the first instance to the

Centre des Impôts des Non-Résidents,
9 rue d'Uzès,
TSA 39203 75094 PARIS CEDEX 02
France

Tél: 01 44 76 18 00 (+33 1 44 76 18 00)
Information line: 01 44 76 19 00 (+33 1 44 76 19 00)
Fax: 01 44 76 19 90 +33 1 44 76 19 90)
E-mail : cinr.paris@dgi.finances.gouv.fr

in about January, asking for form 2042, "Déclaration des Revenus", and 2042C "Déclaration Complémentaire des Revenus". (If you are already in the system - i.e. have declared in previous years - then you should just receive the forms automatically in early March.)
You can also download the forms from a government website, though it takes some ferreting to find the right ones. Hopefully this link should take you to the page where those who let a French holiday home, but who are not fiscally resident in France can look for :

”N° Imprimé : 2041-ECVO (N° C.E.R.F.A : )
2005  -  Impôt sur le revenu
Descriptif du formulaire - Lettre d'information destinée aux contribuables non résidents (Royaume-Uni, Belgique, Canada, Espagne, Etats-Unis, Italie, Pays-Bas, Allemagne)”

From the drop-down menu you can select the leaflet 2041 ECVO RU (Royaume-Uni = United Kingdom), or whatever is appropriate if you live elsewhere.
This PDF document, all in French, tells you what form you need (2042 usually) and what tax you will be liable for.

(2) You receive (or print out) two copies of the form (fill in both, send one off and keep one for your records; if you have printed them off yourself, print two copies of each and then retain one for your records).
(a) You fill in the front page, and date and sign it at the bottom . NB if the wife is declaring the rental income as hers, the form still has to be filled in with the husband's details, plus those of the wife, and you both have to sign it at the bottom.
(b) If you are just declaring rental income and are resident outside France, you tick a box to the left of the signature box if you are declaring some income on form 2042C. (If you are resident in France, or if you have other French income to declare, I cannot advise you I'm afraid!)
(c) You tick a box on page 2, to say whether you are married, divorced, widowed etc.

(3) On form 2042C you fill in the gross rental received in euro in a box - on the 2001 form it was on page 2, C, box NO (if the husband was declaring it), or box OO (if the wife was declaring it), but the box references can vary from year to year. If in doubt, you can email or phone the tax office in Paris (see above), who are very helpful.
If you have been charging people in sterling, then you need to contact the tax office to ask what their official exchange rate - the Taux d'Echange Officiel - is for the year in question, and then do the conversion into euro.
Send the completed forms to the Centre des Impôts des Non-Résidents (see 1 above), by 30 April of the year following the rental period (i.e. 30 April 2002 for 2001 rentals).

(4) Some months later you will receive a bill. After the first year's declaration, you will receive a quarterly bill that is an estimation for the coming year (as yet undeclared) based on your previous year's income. You have to pay these as they come in, otherwise the tax office can add penalty payments.

 

 

The above method of taxing the second year exactly the same as the previous year can look rather confusing. In May 2001 I was reluctant to make payment of about 1,000F in connection with property rental (for an unspecified period), thinking: "Funny, we have already paid exactly that amount in February 2001..."
However, a rather more figure-savvy friend eventually worked out that these were two instalments of payment on earnings in the 2001 season which the French tax authorities had based upon the previous year's income, and thus they had to be paid.

 

 

 

 

NO HOUSE YET?

 


Here are a few people who can help smooth the path to becoming a French property owner:

 

Buying Property in France is a helpful resource that outlines how to find and purchase a property in France. It also has a currency calculator app available on the site, useful for those travelling anywhere abroad.

For the demystifying of French mortgages, look at the consumer-guide page of the Best French Mortgages website.  Click on the “Glossary” tab, too, for an extensive list of expressions used in house-buying, legal and financial situations.

 

Here are some pages for the notaires' office in Challans, where you can also find some properties for sale. Farther east, the Pouzauges office of Pierre-et-Terre Immobilier has been recommended by a reader, as has an agent in the Chantonnay/Pouzauges area (click on "country properties for sale" and then on picture of house required, to see further details).
Click here for a list of notaires in the area - they deal with selling property as much as estate agents do.


Or order a copy of the monthly UK-based paper French Property News.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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