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

Lorry Parks, Toilet Rolls and the Romans

By Richard Pickering Head of Futures Strategy at Cushman & Wakefield                             A personal view of the business and role of property in new Europe

Trucks and tractors  A report by Sky News this week reveals how local authorities across the UK are preparing for our exit from the European Union, each putting a nuanced view of how Brexit will manifest itself in their region. The report reveals that both Dover and Kent councils have made plans for a 13-mile lorry park just off the M20, which could be in place for years to come, (a significant opportunity for greasy spoon pop-up operators?).

Meanwhile, the Shetland Islands have expressed concerns about falling agricultural land prices, estimating that 86% of sheep farms in their region will become loss making after Brexit. The ante has upped in recent weeks, as the previously-unlikely prospect of a no deal exit is, to use Jeremy Hunt’s words, ‘increasing by the day’.

It is the shifting sands and uncertainty, rather than a specific outcome of the Brexit negotiations that is causing the most difficulty for local authorities. With delivery of some public services needing to be planned well in advance, and with seven months to go until a potential no deal exit, this is looking to be an increasingly challenging task.

Reading the market  The proportion of online sales to total sales in the UK is currently around 18%. However, this average figure disguises significant variations within the various product categories. Online grocery sales remain stubbornly low at 6%, whereas the majority of music sales are now online. Why is this? For information goods (music, video, e-books etc) the product can be trialled instantly from the comfort of your living room, can be easily found and reviewed at one of the mega-marketplaces (App store, Amazon) and is delivered in seconds. Hence, for these products online purchases are quicker, easier and cheaper than in store, and therefore more compelling.

Why then is the city of Beijing proposing to spend $15m on subsidising rent for bookstores? It has a vision for 200 24-hour bookstores in the city located in ‘densely populated residential areas and near scenic sites’. The stated reason is to support public reading and to play the role of public libraries. The stores also typically incorporate coffee shops, host lectures and run classes.

Would the UK also see this as a key part of urban infrastructure that should not be allowed to fail? As both libraries and bookstores continue to close, the combination of the two, coupled with a service offering seems logical, and one which might sustain each of them longer than their current trajectories.

Day and night  Have you ever wondered why most high street shops are open in the daytime (when most of us are at work) and closed in the evening (when surely more of us have free time)? It has always struck me as odd. Availability and cost of labour presumably play a part, as does convention. If so, as automation takes hold, could we see this change?

Shopping is not the only activity that is more convenient after hours; so is going to the doctors. Most of us will pick an early or late appointment if possible to minimise disruption of the working day; however, a recent analysis by the BBC shows that over 5 million people are still unable to see a GP out of working hours. The consequences for commercial real estate of us all lining up our activities within the same 8-hour block is that property is largely unused for two thirds of the day.

The challenge to using the same space around the clock for different uses is that businesses have equipment and stock to store out-of-hours that would be incompatible with a shared user. However, as shops start to stock less products in store, business services are digitised and move into the cloud, and fixed desk settings become less popular, space becomes more flexible and might present new opportunities. Could for instance office meeting rooms be used as out-of-hour GP consultation rooms?

Snacks, cigarettes and holy water  The automation of retailing might be perceived as a relatively modern invention. The shift from cashiers to self swipe checkouts has happened very quickly, with the number of self-service tills almost doubling globally over the past 5 years. Amazon’s Go concept is the next evolution of this, dispensing with the till entirely in favour of a single RFID enabled check-out at the door. However, of course automated retailing is not new; we have been doing it since the 1880s in the form of vending machines (and technically since the first century AD when Heron of Alexandria developed a coin-operated holy water dispenser).

The challenge since then has been one of vision, with vending machines typically reserved for snacks and cigarettes.

However, a new breed of vending is much more ambitious. An example of this is a new machine at San Francisco International Airport, which dispenses Uniqlo vests and jackets. They clearly know their target audience of VC and coders. But herein is a benefit of small scale vending – the ability to hit niche or well-known customer segments with targeted offerings. If this works in airports, why wouldn’t it work in office campuses, where there is ample employee data to support stocking decisions, and where the vending machine footprint might be otherwise unused?

Everything must go  As a company that is in the business of finding new premises for occupiers and selling their buildings, a by-product of our service is the collection of miscellanea left over once the building is vacated. The deal to relocate the US Richard to ‘off-location’ Nine Elms, has been catalytic on the development that has followed, and has provided a robust and secure new home for the US Department of State. As to what’s left behind at Grosvenor Square, the US had a clearance sale. This included thousands of loo rolls, a circular saw, and a black Volvo S80. Quite why the loo rolls won’t be needed in the new home is not immediately clear, and there may be a question as to whether a tariff duty will now apply to the importation of the Volvo. However, if you were hoping to become the new owner of the large golden eagle on the roof, I’m sorry, that’s stays put as a condition of the planning consent.

Roman Roads  The pace of change is some areas of life is dizzying. However, we can perhaps take some reassurance from the glacial pace of change in others. One such area is our road network. A recent study by Danish researchers showed ‘a remarkable degree of persistence in road density over time and space’, dating back to the Roman era. They found that ‘ancient roads predict modern roads as well as prosperity’. Essentially our modern road network and the economies that have emerged around it was determined some 2,000 years ago.

When making the business case for infrastructure investment, long time horizons are typically adopted for payback. These take account of regeneration benefits that typically take a long time to crystallise, but are significant when they do, and secondly the lower cost of capital typically associated with public expenditure. However, in light of this evidence, even a 25-year horizon seems far too short to capture the possible millennia of resulting benefits.

Changing transport modes have been shown to break this causality. For instance, in post-Roman northern Africa, following a period of reversion to pedestrian non-wheeled transport, the infrastructure was not rebuilt around the former Roman system and cities shifted. Following this logic, new modes such as AVs, and potentially flying vehicles, could have significant redistributive effects on our cities and geographic wealth concentrations looking forwards.

By Lesley Williams     republished from Cicerone13 July 2018 

I’ve never been a strong cyclist, but until recently I’ve always enjoyed cycling. Now I simply love it! This is not just an isolated remark overheard in a pub, it’s a growing phenomenon, and cyclists who scorn e-bike riders should pause to consider the motives behind the choice made by their e-powered friends.

In early April this year I became one of those cyclists who has a little help. Let me explain…

Cycling with Jonathan in and around Cumbria and the Dales has always been a lonely affair. Whichever way we turn, it’s uphill from our house, and within just a few minutes Jonathan would be a fair distance in front, leaving me to have much of ‘our’ evening or weekend bike ride in solitude. Occasionally we have time for day rides, and we have also completed some short cycle tours – the C2C and Coast and Castles, and each time it has been the same story, as soon as the incline ramps up to over 5 or 6%, I simply can’t keep up, while Jonathan then has to wait and get colder/wetter/sunburnt while he waits for me at the top of any long hill.

Important things about E-bikes and their riders

  1. There are different types of e-bikes

You can get an e-bike in just about any form you can think of – mountain bikes, touring bikes, urban/hybrid and folding bikes and even road bikes (often with small, heavily disguised batteries!). The common factors are that they will all be a little heavier than their non-powered counterparts, they will all provide assistance when turned on and when the rider turns the pedals, they have a legal top assisted speed of 25km and they will all have some sort of computer. So there’s a wide choice available, both in type of bike and in price, but with a general starting price close to £1000 it’s important to choose what’s right for you and your style of riding, and like all good things, usually best to buy the best you can afford.

2. Hills

There is no denying that the steeper the hill, the harder you have to work. Even pro cyclists will tell you that steep hills raise their heart rate and their breathing becomes more laboured. There’s also no denying that riding an e-bike uphill helps with both these things. It helps a lot, even in ‘economy’ mode as, although you are working (sometimes quite hard in ‘economy’), it takes the top nasty edge off the experience, and you arrive at the top of a hill able to breathe and with a healthily raised heart rate, but knowing that your legs have had a bit of a workout. Click it into ‘sport’ or ‘turbo’, and you have a whole different experience, but it really saps battery power!

If you’ve ever had to stop while cycling up a steep hill you will know how incredibly difficult it is to re-start. Some of the tiny Dales and Lake District roads have gates across, and remounting a bike on a steep gradient can be really difficult. With an e-bike it’s easy to stop and start.

3. How much help

Most e-bikes provide a range of power levels, and many also have a number of gears, the idea being that you select the appropriate gear for the terrain as you would with a normal bike, and then boost yourself as much as you need with the engine. This works really well, and the transition through gears and power modes is seamless, particularly with the higher-priced bikes. The only problems come when you’re on prolonged alpine climbs at over 7% and for 30 km or more, as I found out this summer. Steep gradients over long distances meant that my bike computer was predicting under 40 km range in ‘economy’ and less than 20 km in the next setting, so I had no option but to use ‘economy’ for the huge climbs such as on the Galibier, Izoard and Bonette. Believe me, you are definitely working hard, but it always felt in control and I never felt I needed to stop.

4. Features

  • E-bikes are heavier, and if you run out of battery can be much more demanding to cycle than an ordinary bike, so the simple answer is don’t run out of battery power.
  • They are very strongly constructed, and will look after you well, particularly for example in urban conditions where you and your bike are more vulnerable.
  • The computer mounted on the handlebars will give you constant information about the status of the battery, your speed, distance covered, average speed, top speed, the time…
  • Most e-bikes come very well equipped with a number of extras as standard. My bike is specifically for touring, with a good size battery, and came with a rear luggage rack, front shocks, a kick-stand, disc brakes and front and rear lights – which you can turn on and off with one switch on the computer, a feature that became very useful when passing through numerous alpine tunnels!
  • In general the ride position for most e-bikes is more upright, providing good visibility.
  • Handlebars tend to be straight and wide, similar to those on a mountain bike, providing greater stability when cornering and balancing – something we noticed was useful on long alpine descents, when I became the more confident rider!
  • 5. BenefitsFor a couple of years, every bike ride in hilly Cumbria had resulted in renewed problems with my hypermobile left hip. I was becoming less and less enthusiastic about going out for a ride. The more upright riding position, combined with the motor assistance when needed on hills has had a dramatic effect. Firstly I no longer think twice about the hills, as they are all possible, even the insane 20% hills sometimes found in the Lakes and Dales. Also I have had no further problems with my hips since getting my e-bike.It may not be just joint mobility that drives people towards getting an e-bike. People of a certain age, or those with heart or breathing difficulties are now able to start, or continue to enjoy cycling, while benefiting from being outside and getting a good level of exercise, but at a level of exertion that is right and safe for them.

    Surely it is better to be cycling on an e-bike than not cycling at all!

    There are other benefits too. Stopping and starting on hills is so much easier on an e-bike. On our recent alpine tour I would stop quite frequently to take photographs while on the climbs, something that most riders didn’t want to do as their rhythm would have been broken. I would certainly have regretted not having photographs on different stages of each day, as otherwise we would have returned with just a selection of ‘col summit’ selfies, which would have been very boring!

E-bikes build confidence, as the wide tyres, wide handlebars, ride position and general sturdiness of them provide great balance and stability.

Having an e-bike allows you to broaden your horizons and increase your endurance. I know I would not have been able to ride with Jonathan on the Route des Grandes Alpes with my normal bike. I’m not strong enough, and it would have been misery for us both, lengthening the days and leading to who-knows-what in the way of injuries. My e-bike allowed me to not just complete what many cyclists only dream about, but to REALLY enjoy it. I also do much more cycling now. Since early April I have ridden nearly every day and have just booked the bike in for its 2000 km service, which isn’t too bad for just three months of cycling, something that has even impressed the guys at BikeTreks!

In conclusion

If you’re healthy and young, then there is every reason to only consider riding a real bike, as it will give you immense satisfaction that you have tackled great distances and hills under your own power. However for many, the advent of the e-bike has opened up possibilities for activity and adventure that they would otherwise never be able to achieve and enjoy. So please, if you’re a ‘real’ cyclist, don’t mock the e-bike riders, as you may well not know any of the story as to why they choose or need the extra help.

Welcome to Cicerone   Walkers, cyclists, trekkers and mountaineers have trusted Cicerone for nearly fifty years to ensure they have a great time on the hill, trek, walk or ride. Our expert and passionate team of authors, editors and designers work together to produce inspirational and detailed guidebooks, ebooks and routes to the world’s best walks and treks, mountains and cycle routes. Search the site to find ideas, resources and guides for your next adventure.  

Cicerone is the place where you can choose and buy your guidebooks. You can also find further information about every book – the contents, maps, photos and video, as well as updates, reviews, a sample route, and GPX files (if available).  All guides are sorted by the region covered and the main activity in the guide, and can be accessed from the shop or the menu button.

Lesley Williams  Lesley is the Marketing Director and co-owner of Cicerone, and has a Diploma in Marketing. A geographer at heart and in practice, she is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Colonnes Moresques and Morris Columns

. . . from urinals, to poster sites, back to urinals, to tool sheds, to phone booths and back to poster sites . . .

By  Pierre 


The Morris column(colonne Morris in French)is a tall and elegant dark green advertising column. Placed at regular intervals on the Paris pavement, the cylindrical structure has been an iconic element of Parisian street furniture for generations.

While researching the topic, I found out that the Morris column first appeared in Paris in 1868. Today Morris columns are found in almost every French town and even in other parts of the world such as in San Francisco!

Due to the rapid development of theatres, music halls, cabarets . . . advertising posters were found everywhere: on the walls of buildings, on fences, on trees, and particularly on the colonnes moresquesor colonnes rambuteau(urinals inside a hollow pillar). The exterior walls of the urinal columns were consequentially and conveniently covered with these advertising posters.

Most photos and paintings of Paris streets from around 1865 show the colonne moresquewith these advertising posters.

The birth of the Morris column 

On the 1st August 1868, French printer Gabriel Morris and his son Richard won the competition launched by the City for the concession of exclusive advertising space. They noticed that the urine smell strongly repelled the passers-by (I guess many would have said the same!). Anyway they thought it through and suggested to separate the urinals from the advertising space. They took inspiration from the Berlin pillar to design their advertising column that now bears their name.

The column would be dedicated to advertising purposes and the urinals would be housed in pissoirs or as they were called vespasiennes.  [Vespasiennes derived their name from the Roman Emperor Vespasienne who introduced a tax on public urination. Which brings me to wonder if the Parisians abbreviated them to “Vés-Pas” – or pronounced it as “spé” – which in turn was abbreviated to the “vécé” . Which to me makes more sense than asking for “double vé cé” ??? Comments please Ed.] 

The separation of advertising and relieving oneself was the start of a new revolution in the streets of Paris where the Morris column had to be harmonious with the urban environment in compliance with the urban work developed by Baron Haussmann. Elegantly tall but slim the cast iron structure was painted in a dark green colour so as to blend in with the city’s tree-lined boulevards. The circular billboard terminated in a pointed dome similar to that of the Wallace fountain. The dome is set on a hexagonal awning, decorated with scales and acanthus leaves. It gives a definite oriental look to the structure.

Between 1868 and 1870, no less than 451 “first generation” Morris columns were placed in service in Paris. The “second generation” of Morris columns was perfected by architect Gabriel Davioud.  A round strip was added under the awning with the words “Spectacles” and “Théâtre”. The words are separated by a medallion representing a boat, a reference to Paris’ motto “Fluctuat nec mergitur“. [Tossed by the waves but doesn’t flounder]

Today the columns mainly promote movies. Originally the hollow pillar was useful for lamplighters who stored their equipment in a closet designed inside. When gas lighting disappeared the empty space was used for different purposes: to store materials and tools for street maintenance. In 1991 JC Decaux transformed them back to public toilets ‘sanisettes’(perhaps a nod to the colonne mauresque ?!).

Until recently the interior of some columns were equipped with telephone booths. But with the general use of mobile phones, this use disappeared a decade ago.

Unfortunately you won’t find the first generation of Morris columns in the streets of Paris today but the Morris column is now an integral part of the street furniture in Paris. It is considered as a symbolic Parisian decorative element and has been featured in many paintings and novels of the Belle Epoque era. Now the Morris columns are lit at night and rotate.

Over the last decade, the City of Paris has been replacing the Morris column with a more modern version known as the Wilmotte column. Not all Parisians were happy with this decision and it aroused considerable controversy.

AUTHOR PIERRE Website Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management. RELATED POSTS

…Copyright © French Moments Ltd unless otherwise stated. Read more at .

If you’re new here, you may be interested in downloading the guide “20 Amazing Offbeat Places in Paris”. Click here to get your free copy now!

The Devil

By Nick Inman

The Devil (aka Satan or Lucifer) is to be seen everywhere in France. He was the nightmare visitor of the middle ages, often felt or smelt but never seen, and he lingers on in Romanesque stone carvings and frescoes of the Last Judgement. He also pops up in some surprising places such as the holy water stoup at the entrance to Rennes-le-Chateau church.

He is easy to recognise in art by his familiar appearance – horns, tail, fangs, cloven hoof, trident and the smell of sulphur – but these are, of course, all the product of human imaginings and owe more to pagan rather than Christian iconography.

The devil is not all bad if we look at him psychologically and symbolically. He serves an important purpose. He personifies selfishness, vice, injustice, subterfuge and corruption giving us a clear way of thinking about the undesirable, “negative” aspects of human existence.

The devil is really the bringer of awareness with the danger that entails. He tempts but another word for temptation is choice or freewill: to ignore the word of God in the Bible as presented in the teachings of the church and do what you want for your own reasons. The devil could be said to be the voice of intuition rather than obedience; of dissent rather than orthodoxy. Lucifer means “the carrier of light” although this can be taken to mean the light of night that reveals hidden knowledge

Curiously, the devil is not always destructive; he is ingenious and he can do the impossible. In this he is almost to be admire. In particular, he is good at building bridges. There are thought to be around fifty “devil’s bridges” around France, even if they are officially called something else. Sometimes the reason for the name is obvious: the bridge looks as if defies gravity and only some supernatural charm could keep it in place.

Usually there is a legend attached to the building of the bridge following a standard narrative pattern. The devil agrees to build a bridge in a single night on condition that he can have the first soul to cross it. The people of the village, who have agreed to this pact, fool the devil out of his reward: either they make a cock crow before daybreak or they drive a mule across the bridge before any person crosses it.

Among the visually appealing “devil’s bridges” are Gensac in Haute-Garonne (south of Toulouse) which looks as if it defies gravity through supernatural charm – and Montolieu south of Foix in the Ariege.

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

Published by Findhorn Press/Inner Traditions

Available from Amazon:

Immerse yourself in the heart of the Middle Ages

Visit a 21st-century medieval adventure

In the heart of France, in northern Burgundy, a team of fifty master-builders have taken on an extraordinary challenge: building a castle using medieval techniques and materials.

In the heart of Guédelon forest, in an abandoned quarry, a team of master-builders is building a 13th-century castle from scratch. Quarrymen, stonemasons, carpenter-joiners, woodcutters, clay puddlers, potters, dyers, blacksmiths, tilers, carters and rope maker are working together to revive heritage craft skills and to shed light on the world of medieval construction.

All materials are sourced locally and no electricity, gas or steam engines are used. Just donkeys and man-power. The only concession to the C21st is the steel capped boots and goggles that the stone masons wear. All clothing is middle ages, as is the way of life.

It’s sited here, in a quarry, in a forest, and near a lake so all the raw materials are at hand. They’ve even built their own mill on the lake so they can grind their own corn to make the bread that you will eat.

It’s an amazing visit to see how a castle was built. Over the last 35 years 70 employees with very many volunteers have got this far. The last 3 years have seen a couple of towers and walls built – no mean feat. Only another 30 years to go . . .

The fruits of their labour that can be seen this year . . .

It’s unique experiment in the world, nothing like this has been attempted before. This season carpenters will lift one by one 265 pieces of oak that will form the pepper frame in the tower of the chapel. Each is more than 16 meters long. For the first time, a tower of Guédelon will be wearing it’s ‘hat’!

The quarrymen, stonecutters and masons will continue the finishing of the door between two towers which constitutes the main access of the castle.

In 2018, the workers of Guédelon open a new file of experimental archeology to answer the many technical questions that visitors have : how was a window closed in a castle in the Middle Ages? with interior shutters? outside? with glass? or just cobwebs ?

When you visit, stay and break bread with the workers

In agreement with our the local producers who are, for the most part organic, we have 2 cafe/restaurants ‘the Bread on the Board’ and the ‘Mistembec’ Here we offer good, simple and healthy cooking accompanying the bread that’s baked on the spot.

Set in over 7 hectares of woodland, the world of Guédelon is made up of three large areas:

  • the castle and building crafts
  • the village with the tile makers’, house of colours,  stables and animals
  • the forest and mill

Explore the eleven different trades on the construction site, the castle and the hydraulic water mill. Watch the craftsmen and women at work; take time to talk with them and discuss their work.

It’s that time of year again… GRAPE STOMP! 

Take a tour of a Provençal farm, learn how grapes are cultivated and how wine is made, PLUS stomp grapes in enormous antique oak barrels that are waist-high, roomy enough for 4+ people, and have a view of Mount Sainte Victoire.

You’ll learn the difference between harvesting wine grapes and table grapes, then we’ll put on some Edith Piaf and dance in the barrels on top of our harvest! Grape stomps are followed by platters of cheese, pâté, charcuterie, red wine, rosé, and a tasting of our farm’s olive oil and truffle oil (plus learning a French drinking song!).

It’s an authentic French experience that’s full of laughter, fun for all ages and makes memorable vacation photos that you’ll cherish long after your toes are no longer sticky.

DETAILS: Grape stomp, cheese and charcuterie buffet, all you care to drink of Les Pastras rosé and red wine, olive oil and truffle oil tasting: 60€ per person (40€ for children). Minimum of 2 people.

Weekday tours at 10am. Please book at least one week in advance.
Grape stomp season: September 1 – September 30  Weather permitting !!!

Please contact us for more information or to schedule your tour.                           

Johann & Lisa Pepin

September 2018 GBPEUR Forecast

by Jonathan Watson | Associate Director | Foreign Currency Direct

Email: | Web:
Telephone: +44 (0)1494 725353 | Freephone: 0800 328 5884

September provides opportunities for answers to questions on some of the key points on Brexit and UK politics, following a brave recovery by the pound as we ended August.

Positive comments from Michel Barnier that the UK might enjoy a unique or preferred deal offered some light in the dark tunnel of a no-deal Brexit. Interbank rates on GBPEUR rose from 1.1030 to 1.114 as investors backed the potential for a better deal.

GBPEUR exchange rates had found themselves testing the lower levels of 2018 in August as increased expectations of a no-deal Brexit saw the pound sold off. Sterling briefly dipped below the significant 1.10 interbank rate before comments from the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, saw the pound rise.

August saw a flurry of positive economic news including raised interest rates, a 43-year low on Unemployment and the largest government-borrowing surplus in 18 years. Strong economic performance in the past does not however overshadow the potential negative economic consequences a no-deal would have.

Once again, a major issue on GBPEUR exchange rates is not just the weak pound but also the strong Euro. Continued strong economic performance and expectations that the ECB, European Central Bank will raise interest rates in 2019 and withdraw their economic stimulus program, has all bolstered the Euro. In my personal opinion, GBPEUR is likely to now find itself back in the familiar 1.11-1.14 territory as investors back a more positive outlook but uncertainties remain.

Pound benefits from Brexit news

We know Brexit is a key driver on GBPEUR and further important news in September from the return of British MP’s following the summer recess, plus the EU Summit on the 20th  and the Conservative Party Conference on the 30th, could present some fresh direction on Brexit.

Even with Michel Barnier looking to provide the UK with a ‘special deal’, the UK still needs to agree on an overall acceptable position. Both the more soft and hard elements of Brexit must come together and ensure they do not undermine Theresa May’s position ahead of a crucial 7 months before Brexit day, 29thMarch 2019.

There appears slightly less chance of a no-deal as we enter September so, GBPEUR may find some buoyancy back over 1.10 unless a no-deal becomes more likely again, which is still very possible. Sooner or later, there will come a crunch point where not only the UK needs to understand its position but the EU will have to make some long, hard decisions about what it will really offer the UK.

The September EU Summit does not specifically list Brexit on the agenda and the October meeting is seen as a likely candidate for some substantial news. However, even Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has been clear final talks may well run further ahead to November or December.

September provides an opportunity for more clarity on Brexit that might ultimately help the pound. Against the Euro, Sterling will continue to find a tough opponent and the potential for the Euro to retest and breach its 2018 highs against the Pound, is still a very real prospect.

More of the same in September on GBPEUR?

With no real urgency to finalise any Brexit negotiations in September, but slightly more positivity from the potential concessions available from the EU, GBPEUR could find itself back in the more familiar interbank ranges of 1.11-1.14.

Thursday 13this a very important date with lots of potential for a busy period on GBPEUR exchange rates. We have both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank interest rate decisions. Whilst no change in policy is expected, the market will be keen to understand both central bank’s assessments on recent economic news and what lies ahead for the future.

Central Bank meetings can be choppy affairs and to have two on one day, just 45 minutes away from each other, could see a volatile afternoon on GBPEUR rates. Industry-wide predications for the pound are neutral since the Bank of England raised interest rates last month. Euro strength might be the possible outcome since in recent commentary the ECB has appeared quite committed to their plans. Any deviation from this may result in Euro weakness and present a good opportunity for Euro buyers.


September may lack the finer details the GBPEUR pair needs for a consistent break outside the 1.10-1.155 interbank range we have occupied since September 2017, but it could deliver on enough content to ensure a volatile and shifting pattern within these ranges.

September is a very important month for GBPEUR with the double central bank meeting and the potential for progress on Brexit. If you have a transaction that you wish to consider or discuss, buying or selling Euros or pounds then please contact the author directly on

Exchange rates on this page are interbank rates and indicate where the market is trading to show the performance of a currency pair. They are not indicative of the rates which we offer. The information on this article is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute advice to any person on any matter. Foreign Currency Direct plc makes every reasonable effort to ensure that this information is accurate and complete but assumes no responsibility for and gives no warranty with regard to the same.

Your reading for September by Susan Keefe

One Sip at a Time:Learning to Live in Provence

by Keith Van Sickle

Can a two-career couple really pick up stakes and move to Provence? 

When Californian Keith Van Sickle accepted an overseas work post to the French speaking Neuchatel in Switzerland, he and his wife could have believed that this event would be the stimulus which would change their lives forever.

You see, they loved their time abroad so much that on their return to America they decided to become self-employed as consultants. This decision gave them the flexibility and freedom to follow their dream of living in Provence France for periods of time.

So, together with their dog Lucca, they headed for Provence, and in springtime, for three years they stayed in three different locations, Mollégès in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Ventabren in Aix-en-Provence, and Le Thor in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

They were keen to learn the language, make new friends, and immerse themselves in the culture and customs of this beautiful region of France.

Keith’s wonderfully descriptive writing brings alive for his reader the amazing scenery, majestic mountains, incredible chateaux, beautiful villages and culinary delights which they sampled on their visits, and gives a real feel for living there.

As an expat his experiences made me smile as he so eloquently describes the so very unique ways of the French people. There are many examples of how in many different ways they differ so much from the English, some make you smile and some are downright frustrating, but all are interesting to observe, unless of course you are waiting for something or someone to arrive, when their manana sense of time isn’t funny at all.

Reading this book you get a true sense of how important time spent with family, and friends is in France. They are very patriotic and loyal to their country and region, indeed each department has its own culinary specialities, and festivals to celebrate the harvesting of the local produce.

Who could not be amazed at the incredible range of breads, pastries and gateaux which are offered in the boulangeries, and the wide range of produce which can be bought at the markets which are in all the villages however large or small. These markets really are wonderful to investigate, there you can find everything you need from fruit, and fresh goats cheeses direct from the farm, to chickens ready to lay your breakfast eggs.

I highly recommend this fascinating and entertaining book. Whether you love reading about other people’s lives, want to know more about ‘real’ France, or would like to live or holiday there, this very interesting book will captivate and amuse you.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon


Modern Real Estate Investing: The Delaware Statutory Trust

by Mbt John Harvey Cpa, Trawnegan Gall, and David Kangas

The authors of this book have over a decades experience in the real estate private placement industry, and they have also asked several trusted colleagues from real estate sponsors and attorneys to qualified intermediaries to contribute in various ways. In doing this they hope to achieve their goal of not only introducing the DST concept for real estate investing to all, but also to provide for the reader a balanced view from the whole industry.

So what is DST?

DST (Delaware Statutory Trust) is a trust formed under Delaware statutory law which allows a person to own a fraction of a piece of real estate as an investment. This is made possible through a securities private placement offering, and it gives the individual the opportunity to join with other accredited investors in owning a real estate that they would not individually have been able to afford.

This book provides an extensive guide for everyone, from the beginner to the more experienced investor, and the information is divided into four section. The first gives a comprehensive introduction to alternative real estate investing using DST, with the aim of encouraging private investors to consider private placement investing.

Then in the second section, DST is looked at in more detail for those who are unfamiliar with the concept, and this section also provides the reader with insider information on how to choose trusted business partners, whether they be qualified intermediaries, sponsors or brokerages. The authors hope that this information will give private real estate investors the confidence to utilize the effectiveness of § 1031 exchange tax deferral and expand their personal portfolio of institutional grade real estate.

For the experienced investor DST is analysed and greater insight is given as the book progresses. This should aid the more seasoned investor in their selection of properties with a view to minimising risk and meeting their investment aims. Examples are given of real investment portfolios, and explanations of each provided to enable the reader to see the real potential of this type of investing.

At the end of the book in order to provide a balanced viewpoint, the authors have provided information on the alternatives to DST, and discuss their individual pros and cons. Because this is a high risk industry, throughout, the authors have tried to provide fair and balanced information and there is a separate chapter committed to potential risks.

This book is essential reading for anyone who is considering DST. The wealth of experience provided by the authors and contributors, provides invaluable information, presented in a way which is easy to read and understand. A very useful guide which enables the reader to make informed decisions on whether or not this type of real estate investing is for them.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe
Available from Amazon

Five questions to ask about your UK pension in France

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

  1. How much tax will I pay?

If you have not accessed your UK pension and then takeit all as a lump sum,you could pay just 7.5% in French taxes (other conditions apply). Otherwise, taking cash or income from UK pensions attracts income tax rates up to 45% plus 9.1% social charges.

However, you will avoid social charges if you hold the EU form S1 (available once you reach UK State Pension age) or have not joined the French healthcare system. Taking private health insurance could therefore reduce your pensions tax bill by 9.1%.

  1. Will the lifetime pension allowance (LTA) affect me?

Combined UK pension benefits (excluding the State Pension) over £1.03 million invite LTA tax penalties of 55% for lump sums or 25% for income and transfers, even if French resident. Once transferred overseas, funds are out of LTA range.

  1. Are there more tax-efficient opportunities in France?

Transferring UK pensions to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) or reinvesting funds into an ‘assurance-vie’ can unlock tax benefits, estate planning advantages and currency flexibility. But benefits can vary greatly, so take personalised, professional advice for the best results.

  1. Will Brexit change things?

Today, French residents can transfer UK pensions to an EU/EEA-based QROPS tax-free (a 25% charge applies outside the bloc). Post-Brexit, the UK government may widen the net to capture transfers within the EU, and it may become harder to access UK pension funds tax-efficiently.

  1. Do I need regulated advice?

Talking to an adviser who is regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority is compulsory when transferring ‘final-salary’ benefits worth £30,000+, but sensible for anyone considering their pension options. At worst, making the wrong decision could mean losing everything through unsuitable investments or pension scams.

With Brexit only months away, now is the time to review your pension arrangements. A locally-based adviser can tailor a suitable strategy for your unique circumstances and goals to help secure the retirement you want in France.

The 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; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.

Blevins Franks Pensions Focus Week

3-7 September

How will Brexit affect your pensions?

 Brexit and various legislative changes could have a dramatic impact on UK pensions. From      3-7 September the experts in our France offices will be available to assess how all this could affect you and discuss potential solutions.

Contact us with your pension questions and arrange a chat with our pension specialists.

 The 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; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.

You can find other financial advisory articles by visiting our website here



Manish’s Zodiac Predictions for September


Virgo ( 23 August – 22 September ) – Your sense of adventure runs high this month, and you are itching for a change of pace. You’re much better with your imagination right now, and should let your mind wander and daydream.  Opportunities for travel and education figure strongly. All things foreign or undiscovered not only appeal to you but could bring new opportunities. You’re likely to make some important connections if you venture forth onto unfamiliar ground. You can dig deep inside of yourself as well, and face the things that you hold deep inside for no one to ever find.  Favorable Dates : Sep 2, 5, 11, 14, 20, 23 Favorable Colors : Red & Grey

Libra ( 23 September – 22 October) – You can seem a little flighty at times, and are scattered mentally. You do best with smaller, quicker tasks that don’t require you to focus for too long. You’re open to people from all different walks of life, and can embrace individuality. You may come across as more charitable, unique, and rebellious. You want to find middle ground with everyone, and are willing to make compromises you wouldn’t normally make. You can come across as more diplomatic, graceful, and vacillating.During last week, you may find yourself in the spotlight, getting praise and attention. Favorable Dates : Sep 1, 9, 10, 18, 19, 27 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Blue

Scorpio (23 October – 21 November ) – Professionally, If you’ve been working hard and smart, you can experience professional success now. If not, you can experience delays, blocks, and failure. You crave comfort and familiarity, and don’t want to push yourself too much. If single, you can meet someone through a relative, or who is a caring, nurturing person. If in a relationship, you’re more supportive of your partner, and want to connect with them on an emotional level. You can bring more balance into your life, and strive to give everyone an equal amount of your time. Favorable Dates : Sep 3, 5, 12, 14, 21, 23 Favorable Colors : Green & Blue

Sagittarius (22 November -21 December) – You can get a new work opportunity, start a new work project, or begin a new job. This is also a good time to start a new healthy lifestyle and improve your health. You want lots of conversation, and want to be in the company of others so they can give you the mental stimulation you enjoy right now. If single, you can meet someone online, who is younger than yourself, who lives in your community, or through a sibling or neighbour. If in a relationship, you connect more intellectually with your partner.Favorable Dates : Sep 2, 7, 12, 17, 22, 30 Favorable Colors : White & Purple

Capricorn (22 December – 19 January) – You have a practical outlook, and you may seem a little shy, not wanting to volunteer your thoughts and opinions. You understand how all of the pieces fit together, and you feel that you have a good handle on things. You may find yourself wanting to explore other cultures more, or do things to broaden your way of thinking. You’re more comfortable in the spotlight and getting attention.  If in a relationship, you don’t show affection in public, and want to keep everything behind closed doors.Favorable Dates : Sep 1, 2, 10, 11, 19, 20 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Purple

Aquarius (20 January – 18 February) – You feel more creative and inspired, but you’re dramatic when emotional. You want to take your time with everything, and won’t be pushed no matter what. You enjoy the work you do more, and can focus on the details with ease. This is a good time for creative work, or if you work in the arts or beauty industry. If single, you can meet someone through your or their work, or begin seeing a co-worker. If in a relationship, you’re more practical with your affection, and pay attention to the little things with your partner.Favorable Dates : Sep 6, 8, 15, 17, 24, 26 Favorable Colors : Green & White

Pisces (19 February – 20 March) – You’re optimistic and enthusiastic, ready to take charge and go down a new path or embark on a new journey.  You can make the most of opportunities presented to you, or create an opportunity for yourself. You know exactly what you’re capable of, and you can create realistic plans for achieving your goals that you know you’ll attain. You can have more communications at or about your work and goals. You can be presented opportunities unexpectedly, but you’re ready to hit the ground running.  Favorable Dates : Sep 1, 7, 10, 16, 19, 25 Favorable Colors : Brown & White

Aries ( 21 March – 19 April ) – You have an analytical approach to everything, and you’re excellent with the details and small tasks, but may struggle with the big picture and larger projects. You can have more communications during this time, or an important conversation, or get or give important news. You don’t want to be put in a box, and strive to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You can take up a cause and do something good for the world and mankind. You may come across as more distant emotionally, inventive, and eccentric.Favorable Dates : Sep 1, 4, 10, 13, 19, 22 Favorable Colors : Red & Yellow

Taurus ( 20 April – 20 May ) – You benefit from thinking outside of the box and taking an approach that’s unusual. You come up with ideas that are unconventional and unique, embrace visionary people, and do your best thinking with friends or in a group.  You want different perspectives to show you what you’re missing and help you figure out creative solutions. This is a good time to forge a business partnership, or to deal with other people’s money in some way. You can receive money that’s owed to you, or you can make money for yourself and for someone else.Favorable Dates : Sep 5, 6, 14, 15, 23, 24 Favorable Colors : Red & Green

Gemini ( 21 May – 20 June ) – A sense of peace regarding work and health routines is with you this month, and your social life tends to take center stage. You could find that you’re making more concessions than usual and that your agenda takes a back seat to the plans and needs of important people in your life. A conflict between time spent with children or friends, and time spent with a partner, could arise. You may not be the best judge when it comes to love, and may need to spend more time forcing yourself to be realistic about it.Favorable Dates : Sep 3, 6, 12, 15, 21, 24 Favorable Colors : Red & Yellow

Cancer ( 21 June – 22 July ) –You want to see the brighter side of situations, and are more optimistic in general. You can come up with big ideas, but you don’t do anything with them. You can make big promises, but you don’t follow through with them. You enjoy the company of others, especially in one-on-one situations. You have an easier time committing yourself, and you want to sustain a relationships and get along better with your partner. If single, you crave a relationship more than usual, and are more charming. Favorable Dates : Sep 3, 4, 12, 13, 21, 22 Favorable Colors : Red & Grey

Leo  ( 23 July – 22 August )  – You have a more practical outlook, and can focus well. It takes time for you to get started with mental work, but once you do, you’ll keep going until it’s all done. This can be a good time to focus on your budget and creating a financial plan or getting financial advice. Events and realizations this month can get the ball rolling for important changes. Love relationships can reach new depths of understanding. This is the time to work on ridding yourself of self-defeating or limiting attitudes.Favorable Dates : Sep 4, 9, 13, 18, 22, 27 Favorable Colors : Yellow & White