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October 2018
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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

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The Wheel of Fortune at Beauvais



The cathedral of Beauvais (northwest of Paris) is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture but the older church of St Etienne is of even more interest for a particular reason. The north rose is known as the “Wheel of Fortune” window because it is thought to represent the medieval notion of human life (also seen on tarot card number 10). Four hapless figures climb in fortune on the right rim of the wheel, which turns in an anticlockwise direction, and four prone figures descend on the left. They are separated by “Dame Fortune”, at the top.

Three other figures make up a total of twelve. One (difficult to make out) lies at the bottom as if asleep or uninvolved in the cycle and another stands at the point where the wheel starts to ascend, although he isn’t in motion. These two are ambiguous but at least they are aligned with the direction of travel. Another standing figure, on the left, defies the logic of the composition with his head pointing against the flow.

The message of the Wheel of Fortune may seem to be “it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, if you are on the way up now you’ll be going down before long” but in the middle ages this fatalistic myth was not seen as discouraging. The window is set into the north wall for a reason: this is the cold side of the church that hasn’t yet received the light.

Material life may be a treadmill but the life of the spirit is a linear progression driven by hope. The unfortunates depicted on the Wheel are on its circumference: they have invested in the outer world not the luminous inner world and are far from reaching the still point at its centre.

Extract from Mystical France by Nick Inman – Travel guides to France & Spain

Published by Findhorn Press/Inner Traditions

Available from Amazon:

Finding the cheapest flight to France


We can’t guarantee AirHint, but because this’ll help you understand the dynamics of airline pricing v how early to book, you’ll have a much better chance of saving money on your flights with the low-cost airlines.

If you’re using a low cost carrier for your flights, you should make sure you really buy a…low-cost flight ticket. AirHint tells you exactly when it’s the best time to buy your tickets. They help finding best offers and booking the flight.

At present they cover RyanAir, EasyJet, Vueling, Southwest, jetBlue, Wizz Air and Norwegian.

For example (based on RyanAir)AirHint’s prediction model has average accuracy of 82% for Ryanair flights. The accuracy is different for each flight and depends on its popularity and availability of historical data.

To make airfare predictor more helpful, they accompany their recommendations with a tool that shows the price range and the confidence level regarding the best moment to buy Ryanair tickets. Moreover, they tell us if it’s best to wait or book your tickets now and if not what are the chances of price drop. AirHint is all about great flight predictions and deals!

Because airfare predictions were designed for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz Air and Southwest to discover the price patterns of one airline at a time and this can only mean an increased accuracy prediction.

While the other price comparison websites base their predictions on a general one-size-fits-all model, AirHint customize their tool depending on the airline’s flight price patterns. The number of flights may be a bit more limited, but this is a small price to pay for the high accuracy of predictions. They’re all about cheap prices!

In the future they plan to apply this price prediction model to other airlines. They started with Ryanair, since this is the most popular cheap airline in Europe, and follow its cheap flights price pattern. As you probably know, Ryanair changes its fares frequently, so they are 100% dedicated to discover a pattern in Ryanair tickets prices, and tell you when it’s the right moment to book your flight tickets.

So in four words . . . You can but try . . .

Time to catch a Picasso before the exhibition closes on 13th January 2019

Musee de Picasso Paris. 5 rue de Thorigny 75003 Paris.

What does a masterpiece mean to Pablo Picasso? 

The exhibition “Picasso. Masterpieces! Answers this question by bringing together masterpieces, some of which are seen in Paris for the first time. Thanks to exceptional loans, masterpieces from all over the world will be combined with those of the Picasso-Paris National Museum to tell a fuller story

The ensemble exhibits a new approach of Picasso’s works. The existing archives of the Picasso-Paris National Museum occupy an essential place in this story, some shown for the first time.


The second floor is dedicated to tracing the major periods of Pablo Picasso’s work and offers a panorama of his techniques of creation. It is based on the collection of the Musée National Picasso-Paris, the world’s largest of the artist’s works, which is built round two donations made in 1979 & 1990.

On the third floor, masterpieces by Pablo Picasso interact with works from his personal collection, as in his workshops.

Artists buy and swop amongst each other. This means that often the earliest and most ‘adept’ works are in the hands of other artists and not the open market. This collection brings together contemporaries of the artist, such as Henri Matisse or Joan Miró, as well as old masters whom he admired and could afford !

The French government has approved five new high speed TGV train lines . . .

  . . . as part of a plan which will see a whopping €13.4 billion invested in the country’s transport infrastructure by 2023.

According to Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne this figure represents a 40 percent increase on the five-year period before French President Emmanuel Macron was elected. The decision of where it was to be spent has been eagerly awaited since it was announced in January that the government would be investing €3 billion a year in improving the country’s transport infrastructure. The work will be staggered over time to avoid incurring large expenses immediately.


The new LGV (Lignes a Grande Vitesse) rail lines are set to run from:


The main train stations in the two south west cities will also be developed and expanded to accommodate more passengers and more trains. This upgrade means passengers will be able to travel from Paris to Toulouse in 3 hours 10 minutes in future rather than the current 4 hours and 15 minutes.


The Montpellier-Béziers section will be developed as a priority on this new line between the two cities on the Mediterranean coast in south west France. Presumably this will help speed up the TGV trains that link Paris and Gerona in northern Spain. They currently have to slow down to a reduce speed once they pass Montpellier.

Paris-Le Havre

St Lazare station in Paris will be expanded as a first move to improve the line between Paris and the northern French port before the sections of the line between Paris and Mantes and then Mantes-Rouen will be upgraded to high speed lines.

CDG airport Roissy-Picardie

This will open improve access between the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France to the south of the northern Hauts-de-France region. Passengers will be able to reach Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle train station from Chantilly, Creil, Pont-Sainte-Maxence, Clermont, Compiègne (Oise) and Amiens (Somme) on a direct train. However before work begins on the new lines, the investments need to be integrated into a transport law which is set to be presented to parliament in October 2018 by the transport minister.

Paris – Limoges/Toulouse line to be improved

The government has also sanctioned the upgrade of the Intercité (now called TET line) between Paris and Toulouse via Limoges. All of the trains on the line will replaced by newer models and the lines upgraded which will cut 25 minutes off the journey time between Paris and Limoges.

Ouigo services from Gare de Lyon

The low-cost TGV service Ouigo is also set to grow its service and will start running services from Gare de Lyon in Paris to Marseille and the Côte d’Azur from December.

Downsizing your home needn’t mean short-changing your heirs

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

It is possible to scale down the size of your property to unlock retirement funds and still leave a lasting legacy for your family.

With France offering such favourable property opportunities in outstanding surroundings, it is not surprising that many Britons choose to retire to their own slice of heaven in the sun.

Whether you buy your main home here or just somewhere to holiday, your house is most likely your biggest asset. It is usually the most expensive item you will ever buy and has the potential to provide a substantial return on your initial investment over time. Many also view their home as a lasting legacy to secure the financial future of children and other heirs.

However, there are risks in relying on bricks and mortar as the source of your wealth. After all, you cannot fully realise the financial benefits of a property while you are still living in it. Also, as far as investments go, property can prove very costly to maintain.

Done with careful planning, downsizing your home could find the balance between securing a comfortable retirement today and a sizeable legacy for future generations.

Size does matter

Generally, the larger the property, the more expensive it is to run. In addition to mortgage payments, rates and household bills, more generous estates may require cleaning and gardening staff, plus building and pool maintenance costs. These expenses can add up to a relatively high ongoing burden, particularly for more than one property. If you are retired with a reduced or limited income, regular costs like these can be especially draining on your resources.

On the flipside, larger properties can provide leveraging opportunities; you could borrow a greater proportion against the value of the house, for example, through equity release. While this can free up extra cash, like any debt arrangement this comes with costs and risks.

For many retirees – who are looking to shed debt and leave something behind for children and grandchildren – more borrowing is not the answer.

Affording retirement

As life expectancy increases, it is sensible to consider the affordability of retirement over the long term. Wherever you retire, you need to make sure your pensions, savings and investments are enough to sustain the lifestyle you want for as long as you need. Will your existing wealth stretch to ten, twenty, even thirty years of retirement living?

Many British retirees find themselves in an ‘asset rich, cash poor’ situation – owning a considerable amount of ‘physical’ wealth like property, but with substantially less disposable income. Expatriates, for example, often hold on to UK property in addition to their French home, whether for sentimental reasons or as part of their investment portfolio.

While bricks and mortar can be a solid investment, it locks your money away in a highly ‘illiquid’ way. If you want to access your capital, you may not be able to sell property easily or for an acceptable price. Investment funds, on the other hand, spread risk across a range of different assets that may include property alongside equities, bonds, etc. Unlike property, if you require small amounts of cash you can just sell the amount you need, not the whole investment.

Releasing your capital

Downsizing your property can help maintain your existing lifestyle while increasing your accessible wealth. It needn’t be a compromise for space. Many find that once children have flown the nest, a smaller home can suit their needs better – not only when it comes to bills – and still be big enough for the family to visit.

It also needn’t be a compromise when it comes to investment growth. The extra capital released can be reinvested in alternative investment structures that are more tax-efficient for France and offer more flexibility. Ask your adviser, for example, about arrangements that let you take a regular income or hold investments in multiple currencies.

Reducing taxation

Downsizing can also reduce your tax liability. Wherever your home is, stamp duty and capital gains tax charges generally increase with the property’s price tag, and higher-value homes can also tip you over the threshold for wealth tax, where applicable.

In France, owning real estate assets worth over €1.3 million attracts annual wealth taxes of between 0.5% and 1.5% (over an €800,000 allowance). For French residents, this applies to worldwide real estate, including UK property.

Wealth tax rates seem relatively low, but when applied to property values this can add thousands to your tax bill. Reducing the amount of tax payable can help make your money go further in your lifetime and maximise the value of your legacy.

Ultimately, when making sure your family are looked after when you are gone, do not forget your own needs. Take personalised, professional advice to achieve a diversified portfolio to suit your unique aims and circumstances. Your home can still be your castle, but a smaller one could make the most of your retirement years and still look after the next generations.

Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; individuals should seek personalised advice.

You’ll find more of our articles on our website





Your reading for October from Susan Keefe

La Petite Josette en Provence

by Ashley Davidson-Fisher

France captured the hearts of southern California born and raised author Ashley and her husband Michael in 2003, when they arrived in Provence with their four young children. Ashley was studying abroad for degrees in French Culture Studies and Business, and whilst Ashley participated in her university work, Michael and the children became immersed in the French culture and language.

Trips out exploring their adopted country led to a love of the region, and after returning to the USA to complete her degrees, Ashley and her husband returned with their youngest child to Provence in 2010.

It is perhaps these experiences into the French way of life as an expat which inspired Ashley to create this clever little story. It is written primarily in English, but also has many phrases written, and explained in French also. I think this enriches the story and enables the reader to enjoy a truly bilingual experience.

The setting is the beautiful village of Les Baux-de-Provence. It is a listed heritage site, is noted as “one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France” (“Station classée”). Its ruined castle, and history make it the ideal foil for the wonderful journey of discovery, which La Petite Josette and her big sister Anne-Laure embark upon in this story.

There is great excitement in the household, the family are going for a day out! The girls can’t wait for mum to pack the picnic, and dad to get the car ready. Eagerly they watch the beautiful countryside, the vast vineyards, and olive groves go by on their way to their hilltop destination, Les Baux-de-Provence. However it is the village’s hilltop ruined castle which captivates the girls’ imagination.

As they look around it, papa explains its history, and the girls are caught up in the atmosphere, looking over the ramparts, seeing the village below, and even some troglodyte caves!

What an exciting day, they have, there is so much to see and do! But all good things must come to an end, and it is two tired girls who return home at the end of a wonderful day, and clutched in her hand La Petite Josette holds a very special souvenir.

A lovely story, one to be treasured forever, beautifully illustrated by the author and her husband’s talented daughter Martinique Louise Fisher. – Highly Recommended!

Available from Amazon in Paperback


One Pilgrim’s Tips, Tricks, Advice, Stories and Insights for the Next Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago

by Scott E. Bell

Confession time, I brought this book because I am longing to hike the Camino de Santiago and I wanted a honest to goodness, personal opinion of what it is really like to do this amazing walk.

I couldn’t have chosen a better book. The author Scott Bell somehow manages to encourage his readers to participate in the Camino whilst giving a warts ‘n all, no holds barred account of his own journey.

Scott starting his adventure at Saint Pied du Port in southern France, although there are various starting points. As we walk this beautiful, historical, journey with him he not only honestly gives his opinions on the sheer physical and mental strain which is put on the body, but he then offers advice on how to overcome them.

Of course on such a long route, accommodation is also very important, and the author discusses the various types of accommodation available, and the pros and cons of each, including some nasty little critters.

For some people the Camino is a spiritual journey, for others it gives them the time to find themselves, some are youth groups, friends, and others are families. During his travels he met and befriended many people from across the world, each with their own story, and reason for doing the Camino, and so human interest stories abound throughout the book.

The one overwhelming thing about this book is that it is truly one man’s journey, recounted with the purpose of helping others discover not only what they will need to undertake it, but also what they don’t need. The size of your backpack and weightiness of unnecessary gear is discussed and recommendations given by the self-named ‘snail’ of the route.

As the author says, the Camino de Santiago is different for each person, and during their journey that person will discover things about themselves they never knew before.

I found this book totally enthralling, and reading it, the author has inspired me to walk my own Camino when I can. I have to say though that even if you have no intention of doing the Camino, this book is jam packed with wonderful information about the villages and landscapes which the walk goes through and it is littered with historically interesting facts. – Highly Recommended!

Available from Amazon in Kindle format…+scott+e+bell


Swerve: The Little bastards 2

by Jim Lindsay

In SWERVE, we return with Jim Lindsay to America in the 1950’s, the era of rock n’ roll, fast cars seemingly eternal youth. Discover what it was like to live that life, with the thrills and consequences captured in this exciting sequel to his unforgettable The Little Bastards.

The story opens with the main character Sonny Mitchell’s parents reading in the news of the antics, (which happened at the end of the last book) their son had been up to and their outcome. At this point I would like to say that although this is a sequel, this book happily stands alone.

Sonny soon discovers that once his notoriety settles down he still has a lot about life to learn. The Little bastards are growing up, yet being typical boys, they cling onto their youth, and through the authors vividly descriptive writing, the reader tumbles through Sonny and his friend’s lives experiencing through them the fun, freedom, and innocence, which young people enjoyed at this time. Their antics are wide and varied, from tracking down the local legend Lucifer, discover girls, larking around, getting into scrapes, and finding out ways of making money so they could do up their precious cars, you name it they are up to it.

However, despite their fun ways and the thrills and spills of the drag racing scene, the boys are growing up. With his friends beginning to get serious and his own hormones rising, Sonny knows there is only one girl for him, but can he overcome her father’s prejudices and prove himself a worthy suitor?

Refreshingly open and entertaining, Swerve really does allow the reader to time travel back to an era which had so much to offer which was new and full of potential. And yet, through Sonny we glimpse underneath the ‘brave new world’ façade and discover the traditional outlook of the older generation at this time, and how totally revolutionary this era really was to them.

A wonderful story, not a biography, yet it could be as the author has put so much of his memories of his childhood into it. Highly recommended.

 Available from Amazon in Paperback

Under the Escalator

by George M. C. Held

Language: English
Publisher: Filsinger & Co. Ltd.
ISBN-13:  978-0916754235
Price: $12.00 – 16 Pages
Genre: Children’s Book

George Held is the author of 20 poetry books, including the wonderful ‘NEIGHBORS’ series of children’s books which were loved by my nature loving little granddaughter. He is a former English professor, who holds degrees from Brown, the University of Hawaii, and Rutgers, and he also taught on a Fulbright in Czechoslovakia.

In this new release children’s book, written in rhyme, he explores the world of fantasy, and this story is an excellent introduction to this genre for children.

The story centres around an escalator, a common mode of transport for many years enabling people to reach to different levels in buildings. However, even some adults are unsure of them, the way the steps appear in front of you, then suddenly they slip away flat at the end…

What would happen if you didn’t get off?

Well, in this mysterious yet exciting story, a boy decides to ride the escalator all the way around, just to see what is under it. This captivated the imagination of my granddaughter, and she was fascinated to discover who, or what was under it, and what happened to him on his little adventure.

This is a very clever story is very engaging, and a great way to open conversations with young children. It has been wonderfully and vividly illustrated by the talented Bryan Canniff.

Available from Amazon in Paperback

What Do You Do When You Just Can’t Thank People Enough?

by Susan Keefe

Normally, when it comes to my family, I am a very private person on the internet, however in this case I am making an exception.

Last May my beloved dad died of cancer. It was undetected despite two years of monthly hospital stays with serious heart and lung problems. It wasn’t until he complained (and he wasn’t one to complain) of really bad headaches whilst in hospital, that they carried out the neck scan which showed the tell-tale lump. Then they realised that it was, in his words “All over my body, in my bones, and it’s incurable.”

The palliative care team at the hospital were brilliant and in three days he was home. This is where I first met the MacMillan nurses. I cannot praise them enough. During the week it took my dad to die each one was extremely sensitive and caring, ensuring that he was comfortable and had everything he needed. From day one, each nurse when entering the house seemed to be like family, they were friendly yet efficient, answered our questions, guided us in what to expect, hugged us, and cried with us, whatever we needed, they seemed to instinctively know.

Then, the day after he died, they created a memory which will stay in my heart forever. As we sat in the other room they prepared my dad, as they were doing it, they talked to him as if he was still alive, “Sorry Ted we’ve just got to do this…” “We’re just going to have to move you over here…” Then they even gave him a wet shave because they knew from earlier in the week that he preferred it.

How can you repay such caring and sensitive people? I didn’t know, then I saw on the MacMillan website the South Coast Mighty Hike. It was a something I felt compelled to do, even though, at 26 miles, it is going to be very challenging to get physically fit enough for it. I will do it for dad, and my daughter is walking it too in honour of her lovely granddad.

If you feel you can support me by donating, any amount, every penny counts as they say, please click on this link or the button below  , , , ,

[it’s always difficult to know who and what to support these days. This is a really worthy organisation. We all have been touched by cancer so this is a real  opportunity to help the people who help so well. Ed]

Winter and Summer Skiing at the French Alps’ New Highest Hotel

The highest hotel in the French Alps, with the highest residences in Europe is currently under construction in Val d’Isère. Set to be completed in time for the ski season at the end of 2018, the development is one of many happening in this world famous resort.

“Val d’Isère is arguably undergoing the most amount of change of any resort in the French Alps.” believes Charles Antoine Sialelli French Alps Adviser, Athena Advisers

When completed Le Refuge de Solaise will boast 19 rooms, 3 apartments and a 14-bed dormitory. Perched a whole 800 metres higher than the town centre, the hotel’s guests will be the first to hit the piste (or off-piste) in the morning and will enjoy five hours more sun than the rest of the resort, as well as breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and village below.

In addition to this, the resort’s biggest development to date, Le Coin de Val, is still on course. The 15,000 sqm space will include two 4* hotels, residences (including around 900 beds) and commercial spaces, all of which will greatly improve the aesthetics of this part of the resort.

After an incredible season with a seemingly never ending supply of fresh snow, summer skiing has proved popular this year. Having reopened the pistes in June, skiing carried on until mid July, with neighbouring Tignes’ Grande Motte glacier open until Sunday 5th August. Wow !!!

Forget the beach – it’s time to relax by the river!

By Louise Taylor

There’s nothing quite like a quick dip for the ultimate refreshment from the sultry summer heat. However, you don’t have to take on the crowds lining France’s beaches in order to enjoy cooling off in the water.

FrenchEntrée have a selection of superb riverside properties to keep you cool this summer. Riverside living comes with a host of benefits, from increased opportunities for keeping fit to a reduction in stress levels. Are you ready to take the plunge? Then here are two fabulous properties that are perfect for long, lazy days of messing about on the river.

Restored riverside chateau between Sarlat and Souillac: 609,000€

This restored riverside chateauis set in verdant parkland. Close to the Dordogne valley, it boasts some exceptional original and characterful features from the 15th century building. The property exudes a sense of majesty, from its vast stone spiral staircase, grand fireplaces and beamed ceilings to its welcoming library and handy wine cellar.

Spacious apartment in converted monastery: 199,000€

This exceptional two-bedroom apartmentin a converted monastery is perfectly located for those who enjoy riverside walks, painting, fishing and boating. The apartment is finished to a high standard, with on-site facilities including a large, heated swimming pool, pretty gardens and river access with jetty. The idyllic setting in one of ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ brings with it a wonderful sense of serenity.

What actually is Jet lag?

Jet lag is the disturbance to sleep patterns produced by travelling across several times zones when flying East or West. It is usually worse when you fly East (towards the Middle East, China and Japan or returning to France or the UK from a stay in the USA) as the body finds it harder to accept a shorter day (in effect requiring you to go to bed early and sleep) than a longer day (requiring you to stay up longer and then sleep).

Jet lag is associated with a feeling of tiredness, confusion and lethargy. The most common problem is an inability to sleep at night in the new time zone. Sufferers will find it difficult to fall to sleep at the required time and despite only a small amount of sleep sufferers will often wake up very early at what would have been the normal waking time in their normal time zone.

If you take medicines at the same time each day, such as the oral contraceptive pill or insulin, you should discuss this with your pharmacist to ensure you do not miss doses or take too much.

What are the causes of jet lag?

Your body has a natural body clock that dictates the daily pattern of waking and sleep. This pattern is called the circadian rhythm and is set to your local time zone by the hours of light and dark you experience. This circadian rhythm affects when you feel awake and tired, but also when you feel hungry, your body temperature and blood pressure and even when you go to the toilet.

When you travel across time zones it takes a while for your body clock to adjust, and so it may be making you feel wide awake when it’s bedtime in the new time zone or very tired when you should be raring to go. This can be a serious problem on business trips but also can spoil the first few days of a holiday that has cost you a fortune!

Treatments for jet lag

Most people find that symptoms of jet lag will gradually reduce over 2-3 days and the symptoms are not a serious health problem but can be rather disruptive and very inconvenient. You can help your body adjust by adopting the correct times for eating and sleeping in the new time zone as soon as possible. This may mean really trying to stay up when you first arrive. Spending time outside may also help as natural light will influence your body clock to adapt more quickly. Avoiding dehydration is also important to reduce jet lag.

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that can help to ease jet lag by “resetting” the body clock. Melatonin is naturally released by the body in the evening when it gets dark to let your body know it’s time to sleep, and production is reduced in response to light to help you wake up. It can be used to help jet lag by helping you to sleep at the appropriate time for the new time zone.