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December 2014
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Games, Vids, More Games, More Vids & Music:

These News & Views are scooped from around the world; What’s happening? What are people thinking? What would people like them to think?…and some of the amusing things that are going on today.

Click on the picture and you’ll be taken to the Mon Oc portfolio of 400+ articles.  Choose your article and you’ll be taken there, just one click away.  Read today’s scoops here and understand what’s happening.

Personalised Video Messages From Santa Claus

Keep your children (and grown-ups!) on their best behaviour with personalised messages from Santa via Smartphone or Online

suzanne@stunningpr.com_1418212684_Portable-North-PoleEvery child wishes for a personal visit from Santa Claus, now there’s an easy way to fulfill their dream. ‘Portable North Pole’, now offers free personalised video messages from Santa that you can create on your smartphone or computer. 

With the ‘Portable North Pole’, every child can have a special moment with Santa.

Unique holiday experience is available for anyone to create free personalised video messages online or with the free Portable North Pole mobile app for iOS and Android.

You can customise it with your child’s picture, age, where they live, gifts they want most and more, making the experience truly unique.  Plus, a verdict machine leaves kids riveted as they wait for the important answer: are they on Santa’s Naughty or Nice list?

The mobile apps offer fun extras such as an advent calendar with daily surprises and funny footage from Santa’s Village of the elves getting into trouble during chores. Visit online for bedtime stories, activities, and videos to answer even the most curious child’s questions about the magic of Christmas.

Portable North Pole also offers a Premium Video option for £2.99, so you can upload up to five pictures, access more unique audio and video options, and three storylines.  Plus, the Unlimited Holiday Pass, at £7.49, allows you to create as many Premium video messages as you want, receive unlimited phone calls from Santa, unlock a special Christmas Eve video message, and synchronise your messages between the web and mobile devices. There are even grown up versions for big kids too!

Please visit Portable North Pole HERE

In the spirit of giving, PNP donates five percent of all web sales to kids hospitals around the world.  Last year, they raised more than £50,000 for charity and their goal is £75,000 in 2014.

Help Harry get his vote back!

The 15 year rule which excludes British citizens abroad from voting in UK elections is not in keeping with Britain’s democratic traditions.

93 year old Freedom Fighter Harry Shindler MBE, has long campaigned for change.

So have many other organsiations, including Votes for Expat Brits,  Labour International, Liberal International,  Conservatives Abroad and New Europeans.

The photograph above shows (from left to right): Roger Casale (New Europeans), Lorraine Hardy (Labour International),  Harry Shindler MBE, Heather Harper (Conservatives Abroad) and Sir Roger Gale MP (sponsoring Geoffrey-Clifton Brown MP's Bill).

The photograph above shows (from left to right): Roger Casale (New Europeans), Lorraine Hardy (Labour International), Harry Shindler MBE, Heather Harper (Conservatives Abroad) and Sir Roger Gale MP (sponsoring Geoffrey-Clifton Brown MP’s Bill).

The right to vote is exactly what Harry Shindler and his comrades fought for at Anzio in 1944. That’s why Harry wants his vote back. Not just for himself but for millions of British expats around the world who have been disenfranchised by the arbitrary and unjustifiable 15 year rule.

With your help we can and will succeed!

There is a unique opportunity before the General election to pass legislation to scrap the 15 year rule and allow Harry and others to vote in 2015.

The Conservatives have promised to scrap the rule and put this pledge in their manifesto. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have dropped their opposition, having failed to divide the House on Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP’s Ten Minute Rule Bill presented to the Commons on 2 December.

We are now calling for the introduction of a new Bill in government time which would give British citizens the right to vote in UK elections in perpetuity.

There is so little legislation passing through the House of Commons that there is ample time to pass such a Bill in time for the General Election.

This year, parliament is also conducting an inquiry into voter engagement through the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee.

When New Europeans were invited to address the Committee, we stressed the value to the UK of British citizens abroad to the UK.  We also made the point that more and more decisions in Westminster impact directly on the lives of British expats, and yet so many have no avenue available to them to make their voices heard as they have lost the right to vote.

Read our evidence here

Having published it’s interim report in November, the Select Committee is now seeking further representations in the form of a short survey on voter engagement.

If enough British expats reply to the survey in support of our  recommendations to scrap the 15 year rule, we can push the Committee towards calling for this when it makes its final report.

When the government responds to the report it has the opportunity to announce that it will introduce legislation to repeal the 15 year rule in this parliament.

That would give Harry and millions like him what they want – the vote back.

We’re winning the argument….now we need strength in numbers.

We have the opportunity now to demonstrate to the UK parliament that there is real demand from the expat community to get the vote back.

Please take the time to respond to the Select Committee’s survey (which is anonymous).

In answer to Q12 please write:

Following evidence given by New Europeans to the Committee, I confirm that I support the abolition of the 15 year rule which prevents UK expats from voting in UK elections . This should be replaced by a right for British expats to vote in the UK in perpetuity as put forward in Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP s ten Minute Rule Bill of 2 December 2015.

You can also email and write to the Committee directly with your representations - please see further details here


Take advantage of a new train service to move home !

A new Riviera train launched on the 14th December is a welcome addition to the transport options on the Cote D’Azur coastline and provides an even greater allure to property owners in the south of France.

Operated by ItaliaRail, the train travels between Marseille and Milan stopping at some of the most glamorous locations on the French Riviera along the way, including Monaco, Nice, Antibes and Cannes.

Once in Italy, the train travels through the picturesque cities of Genoa, Savona and Sam Remo.

The complete trip from Milan to Marseille can be made in approximately 7 hours and 20 minutes, while Milan to Nice is estimated at about 4.5 hours, and Genoa to Nice takes approx. 3 hours.

Cannes Villa/Property (Price is 2.95M Euros. approx £2.35M)

image002In the heart of the Basse Californie, 5 minutes from the centre of Cannes, the Croisette and its beaches, this authentic 1930s 5 bedroom mansion house has been refurbished using quality noble materials in keeping with tradition.

The 300m2 of habitable space includes high ceilings and generous rooms with a distant sea view from upstairs and swimming pool.  The lovely level garden (1,200m2) has been fully-landscaped by a renowned garden designer.  There are also 4 parking spaces.


Cap D’Antibes (Price: 8.5M Euros approx. £6,898,947)

image004This elegant contemporary home of 240m2 has been completely renovated and offers staggering panoramic sea views. The imposing property offers accommodation over three levels including a large and bright living room with modern fireplace, fully equipped kitchen and has five bedrooms including a master bedroom with bathroom and dressing room. The large roof terrace hosts a Jacuzzi and the property has a south facing private garden. Uniquely, this house has a direct access to the sea with its own private beach.


Nice (Price: 1.59 M Euros approx. £ 1,258,271)

image006This stunning two bedroom art deco apartment (117sqm), has been completely refurbished with first class appointments and materials – automated blinds and shutters, full oak parquet floors, modern kitchen with a marble island and bathrooms tiled in gold leaf mosaics.

The apartment offers space and luxury with well proportioned rooms. The entrance hall opens onto a double reception room opening onto a terrace with spectacular views over the sea and the Promenade. The apartment features a modern kitchen, two en suite bedrooms and a vast walk-in dressing room (could be a third bedroom). The property is in a prestigious location, with CCTV cameras and a caretaker on site – a luxurious turn-key proposition!


Enquiries: or TEL: +44 (0)208 144 5501

Non EU residents who paid 33.3% French Capital Gains Tax instead of 19% can claim back the difference

Some good tax news finally coming out of France. The higher rate of capital gains tax 33% for non EU resident sellers looks like it is finished. Non EU residents will in most cases pay 19% capital gains tax like EU residents. This is a big de facto tax reduction and once it sinks in will make France a much more attractive investment option for international investors and should help move prices up.

Under French domestic law the rate of capital gains tax on the sale of land in France depends upon whether you are (broadly) resident in the EU. If you are, you pay French Capital Gains tax at 19% and if you are not you pay at 33.3% (Article 244 bis A French Tax Code). Residents of some “non-cooperative states” pay tax at 75%.  

Notaires ensure that these taxes are paid by non-French residents by deduction on completion. The law has not been changed in the light of the decisions mentioned below and remains the way notaires will deduct tax on property sales at the moment. Non EU resident sellers accordingly have to pay the tax at the higher rate and then try to reclaim it.

Recent case

The French Conseil d’Etat, which is the highest court for tax matters in France, decided on 20th October 2014 (Case N° 367234) that the higher rate of capital gains tax on non-residents is illegal in certain circumstances. In this case, Swiss residents owned a French property in the name of a French SCI. When they sold they paid at 33.3% on the basis they were non EU residents. They claimed a repayment on basis that they should have been taxed at the lower rate in the same way as EU residents. The French Conseil d’Etat said this was correct and ordered that they be refunded the difference between the higher and lower rates.

The court decided the case on the basis that the higher rate of tax was a disincentive for non-residents to buy in France, and so was an illegal restriction on the movement of capital from another country, contrary EU law. They did not rely on the France- Swiss Double Tax treaty which means the case has wider significance.

How far does the case go?

There are a few scenarios to consider. There may be others.

  1. A sale by a French SCI owned by Swiss residents – there is a very good chance that a reclaim of the higher rate capital gains tax will succeed. This is on the basis of the above case.
  1. A sale by a French SCI owned by non EU non Swiss residents – there is a good chance of success because the judges in the above case decided it on the basis of free movement of capital within the EU and not on Article 15.4 of the France Swiss Double Tax Treaty, so it has more general application.
  1. A sale by a non-French SCI or other entity (e.g. Monaco or Luxembourg entity) owned by non EU residents – there is a good chance of success though not as good as ownership by a French SCI.
  1. A sale by a non EU resident of a property owned in his own name – there is a reasonable prospect of success especially if the property was used for private purposes such as a holiday home. A recent decision of the French Court of Appeal (Marseilles N° 12MA00676) on 7 October 2014 in favour of Jersey residents who had their tax bill reduced from the higher to the lower rate is very helpful.
  1. A sale of shares in a French SCI property company owned by non-residents – there is a reasonable prospect of success especially if the property was used for private purposes such as a holiday home.
  1. A sale by a French SCI owned by a resident in a “non-cooperative state” or by such a resident individual owning the French property direct  (tax rate 75%) – theoretically chance of success on basis that free movement of capital the deciding factor but in practice probably not likely to be successful.

Time limits

The maximum period is usually two years following the year of taxation i.e. when you sold. So if you sold in 2012, you need to make a claim by 31st December 2014 though the time limit may be shorter by one year. Anyone who sold in 2013 should get their claim in by 31st December 2014 at the latest. Sykes Anderson Perry can assist you in this matter with competitive fees and the assurance you are dealing with an English firm of solicitors with years of experience in dealing with the French tax authorities.

David Anderson Solicitor Advocate, Chartered Tax Adviser and barrister (unregistered) at Sykes Anderson Perry Limited Solicitors and Chartered Tax Advisers in London, England

December 2014

148_Sykes_Anderson_International_Tax_Oct14David Anderson Solicitor Advocate, Chartered Tax Adviser and barrister (unregistered)

Sykes Anderson Perry Limited

9 Devonshire Square

London EC2M 4YF

Telephone 020 3178 3770

This information has been prepared by Sykes Anderson Perry Limited as a general guide only and does not constitute advice on any specific matter. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before taking action or refraining from taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of any information or advice given or omitted. The information herein does not constitute investment advice. Always consult an IFA if before taking any investment decision.

Finding, Buying & Improving a Period House – No.8


External below ground swimming pools between 10m² and 100m² with or without an above ground cover less than 1.8m high only require a works declaration. Above ground pools do not need consent unless they are over 10m² or higher than 1.8m² and installed for more than three months. There are rules relating to below ground pools regarding minimum distance from property boundaries and buildings. They vary from area to area, so if the construction of a specific size below ground pool is essential to you it is advisable at an early stage to consult a local pool contractor.

Marshall_Jan15This is an example of a solution to a problem; the size of the garden did not allow enough space from the edges of a decent size pool to the boundaries. One third of the depth is above ground and two thirds are below but it ranks for planning purposes as an above ground pool so is exempt from the below ground rules and as a bonus an increase in taxation. It is surrounded by artificial grass that was discussed in an earlier article.




There are no fees or taxes payable at the time of submitting a planning application or works declaration. There are several taxes that are potentially payable if consent is granted and when the works are commenced or completed.

It is a very complex situation and not all taxes are applicable in all areas, so to be certain of your potential liability you should enquire at the Mairie when planning your project. I have heard that some small Mairies are unable to tell you what the tax will be, and you may need to visit the Préfecture to get an answer.

Several of the taxes were merged in 2012 but that was not made obligatory, so some communes, particularly rural ones still adopt the old regimes. The government’s stated intention was to merge all of the planning taxes by 2015 but then later introduced a new tax on low density development, so the position seems to be fluid.

The taxes payable on a substantial project can amount to several thousand euros, so it is important to build them into your budget.

The local “rates” type of annual taxes, fonciere and habitation are not planning taxes but they will rise if the property is enlarged and/or improved. This is one of the major reasons why many vendors may have forgotten to make a works declaration. Therefore it would be sensible for you to be aware when you purchase what has and has not been declared. Some planning breaches are always enforceable but many lapse after ten years which is why notaires ask vendors if any works have been completed in the last ten years. If their answer is negative, there can be a clause confirming that in the contract, so read it carefully; it may be a future defence.


If you need to submit a planning application and the proposed total floor area (existing plus increase) will be more than 170m² it is obligatory to use a qualified architect. Also regardless of size, if the application is being made on behalf of a company the use of an architect is obligatory. Many people acquire a French property through an SCI for inheritance rules reasons; this is a company requiring the use of an architect. You are not obliged to use a French qualified architect, but they must be qualified specifically as an “architect”, alternative designations are not acceptable. If you use an architect based in France and the planning application is refused because unknown to you it breaches planning regulations, the architect does not have a legal entitlement to a fee.

There is no building regulations control as you know it in the UK, there are standards that should be followed but there is no inspection and approval of detailed plans or site visits by officials. This makes it essential that the contractor’s work is precisely described by plans and a schedule. Substantial works of new construction and improvement done by registered contractors and design & project management work done by registered professionals should benefit from an insurance backed guarantee and/or professional indemnity insurance. To qualify from these benefits a specific procedure evidenced by a paper trail has to be followed before commencement of the work through to completion.

If you are not an “expert” and physically present on site yourself it is therefore highly recommended that the contractor should be supervised by an architect or project manager. Not only should it ensure that the works are done properly in accordance with the building standards, design, specification and schedule it should also ensure that all guarantees and insurances will be valid.

My work often brings me into contact with clients who have not used a project manager even if they were still living overseas. It is a recipe for disaster that frequently ends in tears.

Some architects do not like to do project management. I have seen situations where the architect and project manager were different and when there was a problem each blamed the other. Therefore where possible, if your project requires an architect choose one that will also do the project management.

As in all parts of the world there are contractors, architects and project managers who are thorough, professional and provide an excellent service. Sadly there are some that do not have such high standards. It is imperative that when choosing who to employ that you actively seek recommendations from satisfied previous clients and if possible visit completed projects to see the results of their work.

JOHN MARSHALL – Chartered Valuation Surveyor § Building Pathologist

This article was originally published in French Property News.

STOP PRESS Capital Gains Tax charges on non-residents – more information released

The government has published a summary of responses to the consultation on the new extended capital gains tax (CGT) which will apply to non-residents selling UK residential property from April 2015. The paper provides answers to some of the questions about how the charge will apply in practice. These are outlined below:

  • The new CGT charge will apply only to the gain accrued from April 2015. There will either be rebasing or time apportionment of the whole gain.
  • The gain will need to be reported to HMRC and tax paid within 30 days of the completion of the sale. If the seller is registered for self-assessment, they will be able to make a payment as part of their self-assessment return within the usual self-assessment time scale.


  • Companies will be taxed at 20% to mirror UK corporation tax rate. Indexation allowance may be available and companies which are members of the same group will be able to offset gains and losses on disposals of UK residential properties made by different members of the group.
  • The new charge will not apply to large institutional investors (e.g. pension funds investing on behalf of large numbers of individuals, sovereign wealth funds and most financial institutions) and non-resident companies that are not controlled by small groups of individuals (e.g. family companies).
  • The CGT which is charged in connection with the annual charge on enveloped dwellings (ATED-related CGT) will continue to apply. If the gain is within both the new CGT and ATED-related CGT, the ATED-related CGT will prevail.
  • In cases where anti-avoidance legislation attributes gains of non-UK companies to UK resident shareholders (it applies where a non-UK company is owned by a small group of persons), the new CGT charge will take precedence. It will now be the non-resident company which will be responsible to pay the CGT due rather than UK resident shareholders.

Individuals and trusts:

  • Individuals will be charged at 18 or 28%, depending on total income and gains for the year. The annual exempt amount will be available and it will be possible to offset losses made on UK residential property against gains made on UK residential property.
  • The rate for trustees will be 28%. The annual exempt amount will be half of that available to individuals. This is in line with the current treatment of UK trustees.
  • Main residence relief rules will be amended but only in relation to non-residents disposing of UK residential properties and UK residents disposing of residential properties located outside the UK. Such individuals will only be able to treat a property as their main residence in a tax year if they reside in that property for 90 days in that year.
  • Main residence relief will also be available to trusts if the beneficiary satisfies the 90-day residence requirement.

We are waiting for the draft legislation for further clarification. 

28 November 2014 

David Anderson Solicitor Advocate, Chartered Tax Adviser and barrister (unregistered) and Olga Tabenko lawyer both at Sykes Anderson Perry Limited Solicitors and Chartered Tax Advisers in London, England

This information has been prepared by Sykes Anderson Perry Limited as a general guide only and does not constitute advice on any specific matter. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of any information or advice given or omitted. The information herein does not constitute investment advice. Always consult an IFA if before taking any investment decision.

David Anderson Solicitor Advocate, Chartered Tax Adviser and barrister (unregistered)

Sykes Anderson Perry Limited,  9 Devonshire Square,  London EC2M 4YF

Telephone 020 3178 3770


November amongst the vines at Rives-Blanques

“Bubble bubble toil and trouble” a fermenting barrel, one of the main actors in this month’s Shakespearean drama

Incredible that exactly a month ago we were sitting down to our harvest lunch, back-slapping and smugly congratulating each other on a very good harvest.

Since then, we have traversed the mysterious terrain that lies between grape juice and wine, and learned all the old lessons yet again: when it comes to wine, nothing is certain, every year is different, and life is full of surprises. Laggardly barrels of grape-juice with only  natural yeasts to provoke fermentation surprised us by getting off to a galloping start – and then suddenly slowing down to a snail’s pace for no good reason at all; the barrels with selected yeasts crawled out of the starting block with huge reluctance but then went romping happily all the way home; and a handful of barrels decided to march to a different drum all together and took a side trip into  malolactic fermentation, a truly unusual occurrence for us.  So where did that leave us?

Bemused, in a word.

And holding hard on to the  good memories of a very happy and wholly irreproachable harvest (which you can see by clicking here on the video), as if hanging on to our  lives.

That  is why we delayed sending this letter until we had actually tasted the wines after they had finished fermenting.  We did that this morning, and were reminded of that other absolute and most important truth: it’s the wine that runs the show, and it has not let us down yet. Our first sip of 2014 today confirmed all that.   There is terrific potential in blending all those different barrels … and there were a lot of smiley faces in the cellars this morning.

Limoux was spared the miserable millésime of hail, torrential rain, tears and heartbreak that many suffered in the Languedoc, and as an added bonus, we at Rives-Blanques seem to have been given  a truly worthy successor to the great 2013.  Or at least, that’s what we read in the bottom of this glass …

In that sense, Limoux is blessed – it is so different from the rest of the Languedoc, as discovered by that most writerly of wine critics, the highly lauded and applauded Andrew Jefford. He spent a day and a night in Limoux, took copious notes, tasted a sixtysome of wines, asked perceptive and penetrating questions, and published his findings earlier this month, which you can read here - the best and most comprehensive description of why we make the kind of wines we make in Limoux since Jancis Robinson wrote hers six years ago.  The second part will follow in the Spring.

He says that in Limoux we are kissing the wind … but in fact, our Le Limoux is kissing the sky.  Take a transcontinental flight in the World Business Class of KLM, and guess what you will find there?  Yes!  Our high-flying “finely etched”  blend called Le Limoux ! Needless to say, we are in heaven, so to speak:  it is quite an honour to be  on one of the most respected and thoughtfully constructed wine lists in the sky again.  So if you need something fresh and refreshing on your next flight, there’s what that self-same Jancis Robinson calls a  ”crisp mountain wine” on hand for you .


Still  going Dutch, Amsterdam’s famous Rijksmuseum hasbeen renovated, reinvented and rejuvenated by a €375 million scheme which continues to astonish: this month they opened a luxurious gastronomic restaurant, called Rijks, with a Michelin-star chef at the helm.  Of course Blanquette de Limoux was around  long before Rembrandt put paint to canvas, but now’s the chance for  the Night Watch to call it a day and send for a glass of bubbles from the south of France.   As well as the Blanquette, our top chardonnay, Odyssée was also selected to join the chefs d’oeuvre on the new wine list.

Talking about old Dutch masters, let’s hear it for Jan who single-handedly fielded an impromptu spot-check from a Qualité Sud de France inspector, heavily disguised as a travelling salesman with a penchant for fine wine. Jan earned us 97/100 points as one of the region’s showcase cellar door tasting rooms, and sold a case of wine to boot …

Perhaps a good reason to come and visit us!

Until then, we hope, and with our best wishes


In the garden – December

At the time of writing the weather is still very mild and there is still time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials, particularly as the planting season has been somewhat delayed for many of us by the very dry autumn.  If you plant trees remember to stake them well so that they aren’t rocked by the Languedoc winds.   During December think about the following tasks:

  • giving your tools a good clean and a wipe with an oily rag before storing them over the winter
  • if you have a lawn clean up the mower and aerate the lawn with a fork.  Over winter is a good time to service the mower, and any other garden machinery you have.  Clear dead leaves off the lawn and any low growing ground cover plants but remember that dead leaves are a resource.  They can be added to a compost heap or they can be compressed into a plastic bag, tucked away in a corner of the garden and forgotten about – in a year or two you’ll have a bag of leafmould – excellent organic material for your garden
  • it’s a good time to manure rose bushes
  • if you haven’t already done so remember to protect any plants (eg bougainvillea during it’s first two winters, citrus etc) that are a little tender – mulch the rootstock and have some winter fleece (voile d’hiver) handy so that you can protect foliage when there is frost.  Other tender plants can be brought into a cold greenhouse or veranda for protection.
  • it is a good time also to thin out over crowded branches and to do cutting back generally of  trees and shrubs, much easier to see what you are doing when the plants have lost their leaves
  • check all tree ties and stakes to avoid wind damage over the winter, similarly make sure that climbers and wall shrubs are tied to their supports
  • if you have plants in pots on your patio or terrace make sure that the pot is lifted by standing it on “feet” (old bits of tile or similar) – this enhances drainage and avoids the possibility of waterlogging in the pot which would make the root system more vulnerable to cold
Seed heads of Agapanthus praecox make a good winter silhouette

Seed heads of Agapanthus praecox make a good winter silhouette

Mild weather in November may mean that many late flowering shrubs and

Perennial grasses fade gracefully over the winter and provide structure in the garden

Perennial grasses fade gracefully over the winter and provide structure in the garden

perennials, as well as the autumn colour on deciduous trees and shrubs will still give interest into December but this will all disappear as soon as we have some real frost.

However, there are many plants that give winter interest to the garden, there are those which flower during the winter months such as Clematis cirrhosa, Iris unguicularis and Eriobotrya japonica, many of these are scented; the silhouettes of evergreen shrubs and also of perennials such as ornamental

Clematis cirrhosa Freckles is a lovely, Mediterranean native clematis which flowers during the winter months

Clematis cirrhosa Freckles is a lovely, Mediterranean native clematis which flowers during the winter months

grasses, Echinaceas and sedums also give structure to the garden in winter.  Many of us enjoy attracting birds to the garden during

Eriobotrya japonica (Loquat or Néflier du Japon), an evergreen tree with scented flowers during the winter

Eriobotrya japonica (Loquat or Néflier du Japon), an evergreen tree with scented flowers during the winter

winter as well and leaving seedheads on perennials will provide food for the birds as well.  Planting berry bearing shrubs and installing bird tables will encourage birds to, visit your garden but do remember to provide a water source as well

It is worth thinking about using evergreen plants from your garden to make your own Christmas garlands and wreaths.  Evergreens such as cypress and pine, ivy, holly, myrtle, Viburnum tinus and many others can be used.  A framework can be made

Iris unguicularis (Iris d'Alger) is a lovely winter flowering iris for a sunny, well drained position

Iris unguicularis (Iris d’Alger) is a lovely winter flowering iris for a sunny, well drained position

using the “sarments” (stems) of grape vines, then use conifers as a base to weave in before adding softer foliage such as ivy and then add less pliable foliage such as holly, viburnum, myrtle, wild rose hips, Butcher’s Broom (Ruscus aculeatus) etc.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for the gardener in your life why not think about a La Petite Pépinière Gift Voucher?  Just get in touch!

For further information or for gardening queries  contact Gill Pound at La Petite Pépinière de Caunes (shrubs and perennials, unusual plants and plants for dry climates), 21, Avenue de la Montagne Noire, 11160, Caunes-Minervois.  Tel: 04 68 78 43 81, email

Although the garden and nursery don’t have regular opening hours during the winter months we are always open by appointment so if you would like to visit just email or phone to fix a time.        

Your recommended reading for December

An Apartment in Paris

by Caroline Blane

What a Gem!

Whether you have ever dreamed of owning a little pied-a-terre, are actually seriously considering it, or just love books about France and being the fly on the wall of other peoples adventures, this book cannot fail to entertain and inform you!

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 20.18.10When college professors Caroline and her husband Andrew decide to take a six month sabbatical from their work at a university in America and buy an apartment in Paris, not only do they have themselves to think about, but also settling their five year old son Adrian into school.

Renting an apartment they settle their young son in, and with the resilience of youth, he embraces his new life and settles into his school well, and then the hunt for the perfect apartment begins.

I am an English expat living in France, and have been to Paris quite a few times, however, living within commuting distance of the capital, whilst reading this, I just wanted to get into the car and explore the famous, and more hidden treasures this beautiful city has to offer some more. Engrossed in the book I can imagine sitting in the little café’s dotted throughout the city, and find myself practically smelling the delicious coffee served within. The wonderful food and culture of France is so well described that I found myself dying to try the delicious dishes, gateaux and cheeses which are so beautifully described by the author.

However, whilst soaking in the atmosphere and discovering, or in the case of myself rekindling my love of this wonderful city, I found myself absorbing the enormous amount of practical information and phrases which have been included in this book. For those who need it, there is also a very useful guide to the procedures and terms used everywhere in France when buying a house, and information essential for a prospective buyer.

Throughout the book, the author keeps the reader enthralled by their family’s adventures, whether they are just carrying out everyday tasks, or seeing the city’s sights and districts. This entertaining book is also contains many interesting historical facts about the places they visit, both in Paris and on their breaks to other parts of France.

This is a wonderful mixture of travelogue and ‘how to’ which I thoroughly enjoyed and would not hesitate to recommend.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

An Apartment in Paris is available in Kindle format from

A Christmas Dozen

heart warming stories from Steve Burt – The Christmas Story Pastor

What a wonderful selection of stories!

 51SQd4+9+9L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_The author, Rev. Dr. Steve Burt is a Congregational minister who is also known as The Christmas Story Pastor.  All I can say is that I wish I lived near to him so that I could hear him tell these stories in person.

 But these are not just stories, this wonderful selection uses modern day parables to bring alive the true meaning of Christmas.

What can I say is, if you love Christmas, get out your hankies and immerse yourself in the true meaning of Christmas by reading this beautiful selection of heart-warming stories.

This book also has an audiobook version and I have listened to it. All I can say is that his voice is warm and he pronounces every word so very clearly, that it is so special that when you close your eyes it seems as if he is sitting next to you.

A Christmas Dozen is available from Amazon in Kindle format here:

And from Audible as an audiobook here

Gethsemane: An Epic Poem about Us

by R. Douglas Jacobs 

Firstly, I have to say that it is the audiobook version I reviewed and it provides an experience like no other.

Unusually it is an epic poem, and as soon as I put it on I found myself absorbed in the author/narrator’s voice, it was relaxing and yet, I found myself listening intently to it. R. Douglas Jacobs, narration is set against a wonderful original piece of baroque music, which was written by the gifted composer Mark Moya.

Unknown-1Accompanying the narration, there are a cast of actors James MacEwen (The Gent), Dominique Vance (Celeste), Kahi Taufa’asau (Lucifer), Sigmund Kramer (The Lord), Michael David Little (Azazel), Micah Delhauer (Michael), Lucho Franco (Young Man of Brawn), Sedamar Fitzgerald (The Nude Maiden) and sound effect, which make this audiobook a unique piece of work.

This is the story of Lucifer’s fall from grace, and his journey from there, hell, mankind’s embracing of his ways, and also redemption. Woven into it is some very thought provoking writing, as I started to read this, I mentally decided it would be suitable for a religious group or suchlike, however, by the time I had finished I had definitely changed my mind. It is full of very powerful writing, and I have to warn potential listeners that the content is sexually explicit at times and would not be suitable the young or for those easily offended.

However, despite the previous statement it is to be admired for its sheer powerfulness, the author has, in this most unusual of works created a total living work of art. With beautiful music, talented actors and stunning sound effects, it is something to behold.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Gethsemane is available:

From Amazon in Kindle format

in Paperback

and as an audiobook from Audible


Abolition French Fiscal Representative from 2015

Non-residents selling French land for more than €150.000 have for many years been obliged to appoint a French fiscal representative (“tax agent”).

The tax agents have worked out the non-resident’s capital gains tax (and social charge) bill which is deducted by the notaire on completion. The tax agents have provided a guarantee to the French government that the correct amount of capital gains tax has been paid. The seller has had to pay around 1% of the sale price to the tax agent for this privilege. Many sellers have found this cost excessive especially as it is linked to the sale price and not the gain. You could accordingly end up with a tax agent bill running into tens or hundreds of thousands of euros with a minimal gain.

Tax agents

The tax agents are nominated by the French government and are effectively tax accountants who agree the French capital gains tax exposure with the French administration so the risks of a claim are extremely small. Competition amongst the small number of tax agents is virtually non-existent. Foreign sellers often do not know about this extra charge until after contracts have been exchanged when the notaire tells them he has to appoint a tax agent.

No need for a tax agent from 1st January 2015

Concerned about attracting foreign money into France, the French government has announced that from 1st January 2015 there will no longer be a need to appoint a tax agent for residents of other EU countries. The capital gains tax will still have to be paid over by the notaire on completion but without a tax agent’s certificate that the correct amount of capital gains tax is being paid. It seems notaires will have to use the procedures for calculating the capital gains tax themselves which they already do for sales under €150.000. This will involve extra vigilance on the part of sellers to ensure that they get all the deductions they are entitled to as notaires will be likely to take a very conservative approach. This is very good news for the French property market as it removes a cost and some bureaucracy from the sale process.

What if I have already sold?

This change is being introduced in order to bring France into conformity with European Law. A recent European Court decision states that the requirement to appoint a tax agent restricts freedom of movement within Europe. As France has been contravening European Law, sellers who have suffered this charge in the past should consider bringing a claim against the French government for a refund.


  • If you are selling it is probably best to complete after 31st December 2014 to avoid paying the tax agent’s fees.
  • Check at the outset your notaire will not charge extra for working out the capital gains tax.
  • Check the tax computation carefully to ensure all lawful deductions have been made.

David Anderson Solicitor Advocate,

Chartered Tax Adviser and barrister (unregistered) at Sykes Anderson Perry Limited Solicitors and Chartered Tax Advisers in London, England

This information has been prepared by Sykes Anderson Perry Limited as a general guide only and does not constitute advice on any specific matter. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of any information or advice given or omitted. The information herein does not constitute investment advice. Always consult an IFA if before taking any investment decision.

November 2014


David Anderson Solicitor Advocate, Chartered Tax Adviser and barrister (unregistered)

Sykes Anderson Perry Limited

9 Devonshire Square

London EC2M 4YF

Telephone 020 3178 3770


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