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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

With snow on the horizon – is now the perfect time to buy property in Chamonix?

                                                                                                                      Living in France

Living in France – Knight Frank’s new Ski Property Report 2018-19 has provided an encouraging snapshot of the French market’s performance in the year to June 2018. None of the French resorts that the company monitors recorded a decline in prices over the year, with Val d’Isère and Chamonix recording the healthiest rises, of 3.0% and 2.3% respectively.

The uptick in prices makes now the ideal time to buy in Chamonix, according to specialist French property agents FrenchEntrée.

“We’re seeing some lovely new Chamonix properties come onto the market at the moment, and our expectation is that prices in the area should continue rising over the next year or two at least. Chamonix has some excellent investments in the pipeline, which should serve to drive up property prices in the coming years and ensure it keeps its place as one of the most attractive regions of the Alps.”    Alistair Lockhart, Property Director,

Chamonix’s future plans include a new lift at Grand Montets and 10-seater gondola at Flegere and a renovated lift station at Le Tour. The upgrades are part of a €477 million, 40-year investment plan, which – according to Knight Frank – means the resort is well positioned in terms of potential property price rises.

“Knight Frank’s Ski Property Index has confirmed the link between a resort’s investment in its infrastructure (ski lifts, hotels, spas, non-ski activities etc) and its property market’s performance.”   Ski Property Report 2018-19, Knight Frank

Those buying second homes in Chamonix not only have an idyllic ski resort on their doorstep, they also have excellent income potential as a result of their purchase. During the high season, a four-bedroom chalet in Chamonix can command a rental income of €4,600 per week, with occupancy averaging 90-100%. In low season, occupancy of 60% is realistic.

“As confirmed by the latest Knight Frank ski report, Northern Europeans – in particular those from Scandinavia and the Benelux countries – are showing growing interest in skiing in the Alps. This is against a background of an improving French economy, making now a particularly interesting time for buyers to look closely at Chamonix’s property market.”

New to the market is Chalet les Nants. Just a 10-minute walk from the centre of Chamonix, and at the extremely reasonable price of €1.8 million, the four-bedroom chalet is spread over three floors and offers a magnificent family home, including an open-fire, a large, south facing terrace with hot tub and views of Mont Blanc.

A 10-minute drive from Chamonix, at the lovely family resort of Les Houches, prices are even more reasonable. Chalet Lothiercosts just €1.245 million. The large, light-filled chalet includes four bedrooms, living room with open fire place, pool room and cinema room. The decent-sized garden and balconies provide plenty of space for enjoying the spectacular mountain views.

Of course, Chamonix prices aren’t for everyone. Thankfully, there are other areas of the French Alps that have excellent potential, for more affordable prices.

“The area around Lake Geneva is home to some superb ski properties, with stunning views and easy access to a host of facilities. The presence of the lake, and its associated activities, means that those properties also have excellent dual-season appeal. The up and coming resort of Bourg St Maurice is also well worth investigating, as it has great potential both in terms of future property price increases and rental appeal.”

Homes by Lake Geneva can be picked up for well under €1 million. Just five minutes from the centre of Evian, a captivating, three-bedroom chaletboasts superb lake views and is on the market for just €795,000. Over in Bourg St Maurice, a beautiful, centrally located, four-bedroom apartmentcan be picked up for as little as €520,000.

For further information, contact FrenchEntrée on +44 (0)1225 463752 or propertysales@frenchentree.com. You can also visit https://www.frenchentree.comproperty-for-sale/.

Living in France

Ripe for reform?

By St James’ Wealth Management    26 October 2018

Inheritance Tax rules could be carved up in the upcoming Budget.

While more forecasts will be provided by the Office for Budget Responsibility on Monday, the government appears to have made some progress towards its goal of bringing down the deficit, through spending restraint and rising tax revenues. Yet the improving picture may not deter the chancellor from hunting down further savings, as he seeks to raise money to meet spending commitments made by the prime minister at the Tory party conference.

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is one area that could see reform. Though the tax is only paid by 4% of estates, the amount it collects is rising sharply, hitting £5.3 billion in 2017/181, and the rules governing it are fiendishly complicated. Indeed, the IHT regime is strewn with an assortment of misunderstood rules, resulting in taxpayers exposing their estates to a larger IHT bill than necessary.

Even the chancellor admits IHT is “particularly complex”. Earlier this year, he commissioned the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), which gives independent advice to the government, to review IHT and report back with any proposals “to ensure that the system is fit for purpose and makes the experience of those who interact with it as smooth as possible”.

The chancellor’s letter also singled out the current gifting rules and how they relate to the wider IHT system. The rules on IHT exemptions for smaller amounts have not changed for more than 30 years; you can still only pass on £3,000 a year free of IHT, or £6,000 if you carry over last year’s unused exemption as well. You can also make regular gifts out of your income, and these are also exempt from IHT, so long as you can demonstrate they do not affect your standard of living.

It has been suggested an annual single gifting allowance of £10,000 would be both simpler and fairer. However, the chancellor needs to raise money, and hiking the gifting allowance will not help him do that.

Fall guy

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that the way pensions are taxed on death is one area the government could seek to reform. Pension pots are currently outside the scope of IHT, and whoever inherits one is only liable for Income Tax when they withdraw the money. However, if the pension saver dies before age 75, an exception is made and there is no tax liability on the money withdrawn.

“Removing the IHT and Income Tax exemptions for inherited pension wealth would stop unfairly favouring those who inherit pension wealth rather than other forms of wealth”, says the IFS.

However, it is highly unlikely that the Chancellor will touch this. Not only is the current system very popular with pension savers, but it is also having a positive impact on the way people view saving for retirement. Moreover, the chancellor would almost certainly receive significant opposition from his party if he reversed the rules on inherited pensions.

So where else could he look? Perhaps he could be persuaded to change the rules on Capital Gains Tax (CGT) in relation to inheritances. Currently, when someone passes away, the CGT liability on any increase in the value of assets prior to death effectively dies with them. According to the IFS, this encourages people to hold on to assets that have risen in value, even if they would prefer to sell them and use the proceeds in some other way. It has therefore proposed that this relief is scrapped.

In December 2012, the government estimated that the relief cost it £490 million, though it has declined to publish an estimate since then on the grounds that the cost “cannot be reliably estimated” from existing data.2

Trick or treat?

While it’s impossible to know in advance what the Budget will bring, the OTS consultation has been concluded and a report is expected to be published shortly. Whether its recommendations form part of Hammond’s Budget considerations remains to be seen.  However, it will be interesting to see what the OTS proposes, and whether the chancellor takes any action as a result.

As always, Westminster is rife with rumours and speculation.

The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are dependent on individual circumstances.

https://www.sjpinsights.co.uk/article/ripe-for-reform/alexstavriwm

Cooking and Living in France – Wild Boar Sausage, mushroom and kalette pasta

Living in France

By Caroline Barty

Serves: 4 – Time: 35 min

This is pretty much the perfect midweek supper dish.

Quick, easy and immensely comforting. I make this with the delicious seasonal wild boar and garlic sausages but choose your favourite banger-the best quality you can afford please. Chestnut flour pasta is a current obsession-it has a bite and nuttiness which is perfect for this dish. This variety is ordered from souschef.co.uk.

Ingredients

•    200g kalettes, trimmed

•    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

•    2 echalion shallots, peeled and finely chopped

•    6 large sausages, see intro

•    170g button chestnut mushrooms, brushed clean

•    200g dried penne pasta (see intro)

•    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

•    150ml chicken stock

•    1 tablespoon finely chopped sage leaves

•    100ml double cream

Method

1.     Blanch the kalettes in lightly salted boiling water for 2 minutes then drain well and set aside. Fill the saucepan with salted water and bring to the boil for the pasta later.

2.     Heat the oil in a large frying pan or sauté pan and add the shallots. Stir over a low heat for 8-10 minutes until soft. Remove the skins from the sausages and tear the sausage meat into chunks. Add the chunks to the frying pan and turn the heat up a little. Fry, stirring regularly to brown the sausage pieces evenly, for about 10 minutes until the sausage meat is golden brown and almost cooked through. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes.

3.     At this point start to cook your pasta according to the packet instructions. Stir the mustard, stock and sage into the sausage pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream and kalettes and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

4.     Drain the pasta when it is cooked and tip into the frying pan. Stir a couple of times and serve immediately.

More superb recipes from https://www.carolinebarty.co.uk

Fulcanelli, the cathedral and the alchemists . . . an extract

It was widely thought that alchemy had been finished off by the Enlightenment and the appearance of modern science in the 18th century until an intriguing pseudonymous book appeared in Paris in 1926. The Mystery of the Cathedrals was written by one “Fulcanelli”, who described himself as a practising alchemist. He claimed that the great Gothic cathedrals of northern France are not what they appear to be. They are only superficially Christian. Really, we should seem them as giant “books in stone” built to last for generations.  If we read them correctly we can learn about the secret craft of alchemy.

The book reawakened an interest in alchemy and the debate continues today as to whether it is the route to wisdom or an elaborate pretence.

Who was Fulcanelli, and did he know something the rest of us don’t know? Fulcanelli’s pupil, Eugene Canseliet, claimed that his master had completed the Great Work and found the key to immortality.

The scientist and writer Jacques Bergier claims in a book called The Morning of the Magiciansto have been visited by Fulcanelli himself in a laboratory of the Gas Board in Paris in June 1937. Fulcanelli, he says, wanted to tell him that the alchemists had know about the discoveries in atomic physics that were about to be made for a very long time and that humanity should take great care with the technologies it was about to unleash.

Canseliet later reported that he met Fulcanelli in Seville, in 1953, looking in good health even though he would have to have been 113 years old.

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

Published by Findhorn Press/Inner Traditions

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Guide-Mystical-France-Secrets-Mysteries/dp/1844096858/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530436067&sr=8-1&keywords=a+guide+to+mystical+france

The future of office working, cities and sitting 

​by Richard Pickering

WeMRKT

Disruptive business models in the real estate sector are highlighting the potential to leverage property assets to create other revenue streams. WeWork has been particularly adept at transforming ‘tenants’ into ‘members’. Tenants pay rent, but members it seems are open to buying a much wider collection of services and develop loyalty and stickiness to their ‘community’.

A recent example of this is WeWork’s WeMRKT concept, kicked off over the summer in Hudson Street, Manhattan. Any WeWork member can pitch to have their product promoted in the store. For successful members this provides a new distribution channel for their products, focussed on a targeted member demographic, together with brand and marketing support. For WeWork, they take a skim off the revenue, turning them essentially into the retail arm of their membership.

They have plans to open 500 similar concept stores over the next two years, together with an online channel. Space is a vehicle to engineer choices. Its strength comes in its finite nature, which, when compared with the vast expanses of the internet, constrains customer options. In the process this adds value to the products which make the cut, and to the property owner who can offer that opportunity.

Smart cities and smart decisions

Data is playing an increasingly central role in real estate; from how we choose where to locate a shop, how we make investment decisions, and how we design buildings. With tech players like Sidewalk Labs entering the sphere of city development, this is only likely to increase. However, with this comes questions of ownership and privacy.

One might have thought that Google’s sibling company Sidewalk Labs would want to gain an edge in their Toronto scheme through keeping their data proprietary. This could for instance give them unique metrics on how people interact with real estate and move through the city, which could be capable of monetisation. However, in a bid to address trust issues, Sidewalk Labs announced this week that it is giving up the IP in any data collected through the scheme to a third-party agency ‘Civic Data Trust’ and making all of the systems run on open standards ‘to prevent vendor lock-in’.

We live in an age where disquiet is mounting on how personal data is used. Whether you know it or not, you probably already give up your live location data (from which one can easily infer where you live) through the apps on your phone.  As with many areas of technology, data is one where innovation is running ahead of governance. It is encouraging to see market leaders like Sidewalk Labs taking the ethical high ground on this issue.

Stand up to sitting down

The first purpose-built office in the UK was built in 1729 to house the East India Company. It marked a change in how we work, as orderly rows of desks and offices accommodated the birth of the corporate era.

For many years, and in spite of significant societal shifts, the look and feel of the office has not changed much. Most people still sit at a desk to complete the vast majority of their tasks. However, questions have begun to emerge around the health and productivity implications around spending such a large portion of your life in a sedentary position.

Such is the nature of office-bound work, that last year the University of Edinburgh published a report that found that middle aged Scots spend more hours per week sitting down than pensioners do. An experiment published in British Medical Journal last week sought to prove the effectiveness of implementing a ‘SMArT Work’ (‘Stand More at Work’) intervention. The study involved 146 NHS workers, 77 of which were given a height adjustable work station.

Predictably, by the end of the experiment, those with standing desks were sedentary 83 minutes less per day than those with a desk. A significant proportion found that this created benefits, in that they were less tired, less anxious, felt more engaged throughout the day and there was a reduced incidence of musculoskeletal issues. With the evidence building in favour of standing work-stations, how long will we continue to fit out offices with traditional seated furniture as standard?

Living in France – Focus on Toulouse

By Pierre @ French Moments

Because it is mainly built from clay bricks, Toulouse is called the “Pink city”. In the early morning, the sun reflects on the buildings, giving them a very specific pink tint, for which Toulouse is famous.

The main buildings of Toulouse: including the Capitole, the Old Town and the banks of the Garonne River (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site)… are constructed from this material, giving the city a very welcoming and warm tone which can also be found in its gastronomy!

Toulouse has long been a capital in the southwest area of France. Capital city of the Visigoths realm, capital of Languedoc when the city was still attached to this area, main Cathar city… This glorious heritage still lives today in the city, through its historic buildings but also through the activities, which have developed since those times: education, industry and leadership, which are still characteristic of Toulouse today.

Firstly, education: The University of Toulouse was established during the Middle-Ages The formation of the University of Toulouse was imposed on Count Raymond VII as a part of the Treaty of Paris in 1229 ending the crusade against the Albigensians. As he was suspected of sympathising with the heretics, Raymond VII had to finance the teaching of theology. It has since grown and developed, establishing Toulouse as an important student city. It is frequently ranked first (not counting Paris) with regard to the well-being of students, the activities offered to them etc.

Even though the city has recently been more involved in industrial activities, Toulouse is still considered a leading city in terms of innovation and research. Airbus’ factories and offices are partly responsible for this reputation in the aeronautic field, but other fields such as Health (the Oncopole) and Aero-spatial science (with the development of satellites) are also positioning Toulouse as a leading city.

Toulouse has kept its vibrant desire for power, which has characterised its culture throughout history. No longer fighting against the King, as it was under the Counts of Toulouse,  the city still strives to remain a powerful political presence. It is the chef-lieu of Haute-Garonne, one of the main cities in the field of law.

Toulouse still competes with its closest main city, Bordeaux in particular in rugby! At every event between Bordeaux and Toulouse, the Stade Toulousain is full of Toulouse’s residents. The “Culture of Rugby” is very vibrant in the city and the rugby team of Toulouse is strongly supported by its fans.

Festivals

Rio LocoLaunched in the 1990s, Rio Loco is a music festival which takes place on the banks of the Garonne. On its 3 stages, the festival tries to promote worldwide music. Over four days, concerts and also kids’ shows and cultural events are held.

Cinespana For ten days, the Spanish cinema is Toulouse’s guest of honour. Every day, in the theatres of the city, independent films from Spain are shown to the public. It is a major festival of Spanish culture, strongly implanted in Toulouse, thanks to its important Spanish population. As in Deauville or Cannes, the festival holds a competition. A jury awards full-length and short films with premiere showings in France. Alongside the main competition, some old films are also presented and appearances by the actors and producers are organised.

Festival Occitania Occurring during two weeks between the end of September and the beginning of October, the festival Occitania promotes the use of the Occitan language, spoken in Toulouse and the surrounding areas. The idea behind the event is to provide a stage for Occitanian culture: music, paintings, films… as well as its links with the other cultures, especially Spanish and Italian.

Toulouse PlageDuring the summer, the quays of the Garonne river turn into beaches, with a lot of activities for those who are not travelling to the sea. People can discover new activities such as yoga, Australian footy, athletics and also try activities like water painting or circus acts…  or just lie in the sun on the Bazacle terraces.

Journées Violette– Violet FestivalThe violet of Toulouse was introduced into France under Napoleon III in the mid-19th century. The fragrant little mauve flower blossoms in winter and is recognisable with its 30 to 40 petals, hence the name ‘double purple violet’. Today the flower is found in a whole range of craft products: sweets, syrups, spirits, perfumes… In 1984 the violet of Toulouse was protected and trademarked, and its production was revived. Since 2003, Toulouse has been holding a Violet Festival each year on the 1st and 2nd weekend of February

© French Moments https://frenchmoments.eu

https://frenchmoments.eu/toulouse-midi-pyrenees/ 

Living in France

Living in France ? Can you afford the cost of living longer?

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

By making the lifestyle choice for living in France, you will want to make the most of what this country has to offer by enjoying the beautiful scenery and climate for as long as you possibly can.

That may be much longer than you think. According to UK government statistics, life expectancy is the highest it has ever been. Today, Britons aged 65 can expect to live for a further twenty years on average – around five years longer than those at the same age in 1989. By 2039, this is projected to go up another five years.

Not only are people living longer, they are enjoying a lifestyle that is much more active – and arguably more expensive – than the generations before them.

With more people living into their 90s and beyond – a four-fold increase in men since 1982, and twice as many women – how can you make sure your money lasts as long as you do?

Getting value for money

Many retirees favour low-risk, ‘safer’ investments like bank deposits in their later years. But with potentially 30 years or more to fund in retirement, this is often a false economy. While the cost of living generally increases over time, interest rates within Europe are currently lingering at or near zero – which means many people with bank savings are actually earning a negative real rate of return.

Although the UK interest rate has recently increased to 0.75%, this marks the first time since 2009 that rates have gone above half a per cent. In times like this – with UK rates expected to only reach 1.1% by 2021 – savers need to look further afield for returns that can keep up with the cost of living.

Expatriates also need to factor in exchange rate risk. If you have no choice but to take income in pounds, such as your UK pension, while spending euros in your daily life, you may find your money does not go as far as it once did. With both sterling and the euro so vulnerable to Brexit developments, it is more important than ever to have a well-diversified portfolio with a mix of assets, like equities, bonds and property as well as cash.

You should also spread investments across countries, currencies, regions and market sectors to minimise overexposure in any one area. The key is to find the right balance of risk and return for your peace of mind, and to make sure your savings and investments are structured as tax-efficiently as possible for your unique situation.

Pensions to last a lifetime

For many people, unless you have a ‘final salary’ pension that provides a fixed income for the rest of your life, outliving your savings is a real risk. The State Pension – currently worth a maximum of around £8,500 a year – is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap.

There may be ways for expatriates to make pension funds go further. For example, you could consider transferring to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) or reinvesting a lump sum in French-compliant arrangements. Doing this could offer tax advantages and provide more flexibility for how you can access your money, including the ability to choose the currency of withdrawals. Before making any decisions about your pension, however, it is essential to take regulated advice to avoid pension scams and establish the best approach for your particular objectives and circumstances.

 A taxing problem – not just for governments

Rising life expectancy is also expensive for governments. The higher the proportion of older people in a population, the greater the costs of services like state pensions and healthcare – and the lower the number of taxpayers that can fund it. For governments the world over, the solution usually lies in pension or healthcare reforms and tax increases to finance these escalating expenses.

Higher taxation can be a serious threat to your financial security in retirement, especially when coupled with rising healthcare costs. This is where personalised tax planning is vital to make use of available opportunities – in the UK, France or elsewhere – to ensure you do not pay more tax than necessary. With many of these arrangements you can combine your tax and investment planning in one exercise, allowing you to tackle the twin threats of tax and inflation at the same time.

For the best results, take professional advice designed for your unique circumstances and goals. Good financial planning can help put you on track to afford the lifestyle you want for as long as you need, so you can focus on enjoying a long and comfortable retirement in France.

This article should not be construed as providing any personalised investment advice. You should take advice for your circumstances.

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

Cake had nothing to do with it. Part 2 of 3

By Richard Covington first published in the Smithsonian Magazine

Based in France, Richard Covington writes on culture, history, science and the arts from his home near Versailles.

In one salon is the exquisite harp Marie Antoinette played well enough to accompany Antonio Salieri, the Hapsburg court composer and Mozart rival she invited to visit. In an adjoining room, Baulez shows me the infamous pale blue boudoir with mirrored interior shutters that the queen could raise and lower at will. “People imagined mirrors surrounding a bed for secret trysts,” he says, “but she was just trying to keep curious passers-by from peering inside.” Whatever trysts there were did not include Louis, who spent not a single night at the Petit Trianon, although he did occasionally pop by to read to himself in a little rowboat.

Fersen was the more frequent guest. The queen went so far as to furnish an apartment above hers for him. By October 1787, they were exchanging clandestine letters about such prosaic domestic details as where to put a stove. Unravelling the details of their relationship has kept biographers guessing for more than 200 years, largely because Fersen destroyed substantial portions of his journal and a great-nephew to whom his letters were entrusted censored some and suppressed others. “I can tell you that I love you,” Marie Antoinette declared in one letter back to him.

They had met at a Paris opera ball in January 1774, when Fersen, the 18-year-old son of a wealthy Swedish nobleman, was making the grand tour. The young queen invited him to several balls at Versailles, but not long after, he left for England. Four years later he returned to the French court as a young military officer and, according to Comte Francois Emmanuel de Saint-Priest—Louis’ future minister of the interior—“captured the queen’s heart.” In early 1779, Fersen signed on to fight on behalf of France in the American Revolution, in part perhaps to escape the queen’s growing infatuation.

When he returned to Versailles four years later, in June 1783, he wrote to his sister, swearing off marriage because: “I cannot belong to the only person to whom I want to belong, the one who really loves me, and so I do not want to belong to anyone.” That summer, he visited Marie Antoinette nearly every day.

By now the 27-year-old queen—mother of a 4 1/2-year-old daughter, Marie Thérèse Charlotte, and a son, the Dauphin Louis Joseph Xavier, nearly 2—had blossomed into a full-figured beauty, with luminous eyes and a demeanor some saw as dignified, others as haughty. As a young princess, she had burst into tears when Mercy had pressured her to get involved in politics; now she scolded the French foreign minister for excluding Joseph II from the peace process with England, though to little effect.

Some two years later, around the time her second son, Louis Charles, was born, Marie Antoinette became the victim of one of the most byzantine swindles in history. A fortune hunter named Jeanne de Lamotte Valois persuaded the gullible Cardinal de Rohan that she was a close friend of the queen’s—though Marie Antoinette had never heard of her. Lamotte’s lover, Rétaux de Villette, forged letters purportedly from the queen imploring the cardinal to buy a necklace of 647 diamonds costing 1.5 million francs ($4.7 million today). Writing as the queen, de Villette said “she” was too embarrassed to ask Louis for so expensive a present and was relying on the gallant cardinal to obtain it for her. The queen would, of course, repay him.

After a clandestine meeting in the palace gardens with a woman hired by Lamotte to impersonate the queen, Rohan was hooked. When jewelers delivered the necklace to the cardinal, he gave it to Rétaux, disguised as the queen’s footman. Lamotte’s husband then smuggled it to London to be sold off in pieces. When the jewellers demanded payment in August 1785, Marie Antoinette was livid with rage and Louis ordered Rohan arrested.

The subsequent trial caused a sensation. The Paris Parliament defied the king’s command to convict the duped cardinal and acquitted him. Lamotte was flogged, branded on her breast with a V for voleuse (thief) and tossed into prison. And though Marie Antoinette was not on trial, she might as well have been. “The queen was innocent,” Napoleon observed years later, “and, to make sure that her innocence should be publicly recognized, she chose the Parliament of Paris for her judge. The upshot was that she was universally regarded as guilty.”

The affair of the necklace provided further fodder for scandal-mongering pamphleteers and journalists already intent on portraying the queen as greedy and corrupt. From then on, she could do no right. Her embarrassment made Louis more vulnerable than ever.

Beset by severe food shortages, weighed down by taxes, resentful of royal absolutism and inspired by the egalitarian example of an independent United States, French citizens were growing increasingly vocal in their demands for self-government. In May 1789, to avert the nation’s impending bankruptcy (a series of wars, years of corruption and Louis’ support of the American Revolution as a means of weakening England had depleted the French treasury), the king convened the Estates-General, an assembly of representatives of the clergy, nobility and commoners that had not met since 1614.

As Marie Antoinette’s carriage wound from the palace through the streets of Versailles to welcome the gathering, crowds along the way stood in sullen silence. In a sermon at the town’s Church of Saint Louis, the Bishop of Nancy railed against the queen’s profligate spending. (Dubbed Madame Deficit, the queen was increasingly blamed for the country’s desperate financial situation, although she had in fact already cut back on personal expenses.) At the time of the Bishop’s sermon, however, the 33-year-old mother was consumed with anxiety over her older son, the gravely ill Dauphin. Within a month, the 7-year-old prince would be dead of tuberculosis of the spine.

Historians trace the French Revolution to that summer of 1789. On July 14, some 900 Parisian workers, shopkeepers and peasants—fearing that the king, who at the queen’s urging had moved a large number of troops to Versailles and Paris, would dissolve the representative National Assembly—stormed the Bastille prison to seize arms and ammunition. Marie Antoinette tried to convince her husband to put down the insurrection, but not wanting to provoke an all-out conflict, he refused, effectively ceding Paris to the revolutionaries. Comte Honoré de Mirabeau, leader of the increasingly anti-monarchist National Assembly, observed that the queen had become “the only man at court.” In the weeks that followed, the Assembly did away with age-old privileges for the aristocracy and clergy, declared a free press, got rid of serfdom and proclaimed the Rights of Man.

A little before noon on October 5, a mob of several thousand market women, armed with pikes and sickles, set out from Paris’ Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) on a 12-mile trek to Versailles to protest a lack of jobs and the high cost of bread. By evening, thousands more, some carrying guns, had joined them in front of the palace. After dithering over what to do, Louis finally decided to seek refuge in the distant Rambouillet château. But when his coachmen rolled out the royal carriages, the crowd cut the horses’ harnesses, stranding him and his family.

Around five o’clock on the morning of the sixth, rebels surged toward the queen’s bedroom, killing two guards. A terrified Marie Antoinette leapt out of bed and raced to the king’s apartments. Louis, meanwhile, had dashed to her bedroom to rescue her, but finding her gone, doubled back with their son to join her and their daughter in the dining hall of his quarters. By this time, the Marquis de Lafayette, commander of the National Guard, had arrived with Guard troops and temporarily restored order.

But the throng, swollen to some 10,000 people, began clamouring to take Louis to Paris. When someone cried out for the queen to show herself on the balcony, she stepped forward, curtsying with such aplomb that the mob grew silent, then burst into cries of “Long live the queen!” But Marie Antoinette sensed that the reprieve would be short-lived. Retreating inside, she broke down. “They are going to force us to go to Paris, the King and me, preceded by the heads of our bodyguards on pikes,” she said. Her words proved prophetic. Within hours, the triumphant procession—indeed with the guards’ heads on pikes—was escorting the captive royal family to the old Tuileries palace in the capital.

Although the king and queen were not locked in, and in theory could have left the palace had they chosen to do so, they withdrew into self-imposed seclusion. The king seemed unable to act. “Taking the place of her husband (whom everyone thrust contemptuously aside as an incurable weakling),” writes Zweig, Marie Antoinette “held council with the ministers and ambassadors, watching over their undertakings and revising their dispatches.”

“She was decisive where he was indecisive,” biographer Antonia Fraser says in a new PBS documentary Marie Antoinette. “She was courageous when he was vacillating.” She dashed off letters in cipher and invisible ink to other European sovereigns, pleading with them to invade France and shore up the king’s crumbling authority, but to no avail. Meeting secretly with Mirabeau in July 1790, she won the influential legislator over to the cause of preserving the monarchy.

By December, however, she was devising a contingency plan to flee Paris for Montmédy, near the Austrian-controlled Netherlands. There the royal couple planned to mount a counterrevolution with troops under the command of Royalist general Francois-Claude Bouillé. When Mirabeau died in April 1791 without securing the Assembly’s promise to retain Louis as king in a constitutional monarchy, Louis and Marie Antoinette put their plan into action.

But instead of following Bouillé’s advice to make the trip in two light carriages, the queen insisted on keeping the family together in a lumbering coach called a berlin, encumbered with a silver dinner service, a clothes-press, and a small wine chest. (Fersen had made the arrangements, even mortgaging his estate to pay for the carriage.) Late in the evening of June 20, 1791, the royal family, disguised as servants, slipped out of the capital. Fersen accompanied them as far as Bondy, 16 miles east of the Tuileries.

While the horses were being changed, he pleaded with Louis to let him continue with the family rather than reuniting at Montmédy two days later as planned. Louis refused, perhaps, suggests biographer Evelyne Lever, because he thought it humiliating to be under the protection of his wife’s lover. Also, Fraser says in the PBS film, Louis didn’t want people to think a foreigner had helped them get away. . . .

 . . . Third and final part will be published on 1st December

French Wealth Tax

By Graeme Perry

Solicitor, at Sykes Anderson Perry Limited Solicitors in London, England.

Wealth tax is an important factor when individuals purchase a property in France. This is largely because it is an unfamiliar tax to UK residents. The way in which the tax applies has changed significantly over the years but this year has seen perhaps the greatest overhaul.

With effect from 1 January 2018, the tax applies only to real estate assets, whether held directly or indirectly. This is helpful mainly for French residents as, previously, all their assets were taxable unless reliefs applied. These reliefs were relatively complex so the change in approach will certainly be welcomed by French residents.

For non-residents there is no particular positive change as they would only generally be taxable on their French real estate before this change. If you are not resident in France then any non-French assets are not subject to wealth tax. This was also the case prior to 2018.

As previously, the charge is based on a snapshot value of the property on 1 January each year. There is no pro-rating if a property is disposed of part way through a tax year.

A particularly negative change to the wealth tax regime is the deductibility of debts when calculating the charge. Previously this was relatively straightforward and many individuals would borrow at a high loan to value ratio on interest-only terms. This reduced the net value of the French property which is what the wealth tax was charged on. The new law is restrictive in relation to these loan arrangements. Firstly, if you have an interest-only loan, the law dictates that the amount of the capital which is deductible is reduced each year. This is on a straight-line basis so if you have a ten year term, the deductible capital is reduced by 10% each year. Secondly, if the loan capital is at least 60% of the property value, then only a limited amount might be deductible (depending on the gross value of the property). Essentially the first 60% of the loan to value is deductible then only 50% of any lending above that limit is deductible (i.e. the maximum deduction now possible is 80% loan to value).

This new law applies to loans which were already in existence prior to 1 January 2018. Unfortunately, commentary on the application of the new law was only introduced in June 2018 making it very difficult to plan ahead of 2018. However, steps can now be taken with more certainty in respect of 2019.

Individuals with these types of arrangement should take advice now as to what steps they might take. What is possible will depend on the circumstances of the ownership and the property but some options might be:

1.      Consider ownership structure within a corporate vehicle;

2.      Consider passing some ownership to the next generation; and

3.      Consider different lending arrangements, which are not interest-only.

We would be happy to discuss the options available. 

Graeme Perry, Solicitor  Graeme.perry@saplaw.co.uk

Sykes Anderson Perry Limited   020 3794 5958

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.

Where do poppies come from?

Every year a production team hand-make millions of Remembrance products for the Royal Family and The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

In 1922 Major George Howson MC opened a factory. He had one dream: ‘to give the disabled their chance.’

Thousands of wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen were returning from The Great War without the means of earning a living and Howson was sure he could do something about it. Poppies had become popular as an icon of public Remembrance through the work of Anna Guerin of France and Moina Michael of the USA, who took Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem, “In Flanders Fields”, and devised a practical way of raising vital funds for wartime charities.

The British Legion had been set up the year before and the very first Poppy Appeal – using silk poppies made by widows in France – had raised £106,000.

Howson saw his chance and asked Earl Haig, the founder of the British Legion, if he could make the poppies for their next Poppy Appeal. Howson decided to set up The Disabled Society with just 6 staff.

Within 10 years, the name had changed to The Poppy Factory and Howson was employing over 350 disabled veterans to make the poppies. The factory moved to Richmond in 1925 and in 1928 Howson founded the annual Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.

Towards the end of the century, the needs of veterans started to change. They wanted to work in their local communities, to be closer to their families, and to utilise the wide variety of skills that they learned during their time in HM Armed Forces. This was the cue to innovate.

In 2010, The Poppy Factory embarked upon a hopeful venture – much like Howson did in 1922 – and took their expertise for employing disabled ex-Service personnel on the road to help veterans find the work they wanted in the places they wanted to be.

The Poppy Factory has now built upon its strong historical foundations to provide an exceptional employability service that supports hundreds of ex-Service personnel with health challenges into rewarding employment with businesses across the country every year.

This was such a successful venture between the two charities that it continues to this day; Today around 30 disabled veterans, their dependents, and a small team of home-workers, work year-round to produce wreaths, crosses and poppies to meet an annual order from The Royal British Legion.

The products are “sold” (for zero profit) to the Legion under special arrangement for it’s annual Poppy Appeal, which then uses the fundraising income from selling these to the public to fulfil The Royal British Legion’scharitable objectives – and so today around 30 disabled veterans, their dependents, and a small team of home-workers, work year-round to produce wreaths, crosses and poppies to meet an annual order from The Royal British Legion.

The products are “sold” (for zero profit) to the Legion under special arrangement for it’s annual Poppy Appeal, which then uses the fundraising income from selling these to the public to fulfil The Royal British Legion’scharitable objectives.

The Field of Remembrance

Every November the annual Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey is organised and run by the Poppy Factory.

Over 350 plots for regimental and other associations are laid out in the area between Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church. Remembrance crosses are provided so that ex-Service men and women, as well as members of the public, can plant a cross in memory of their fallen comrades and loved ones. The Field is opened every Thursday before Remembrance Sunday and stays open for a further ten days.

Started as the Field of Remembrance in 1928 with a few disabled ex-Service men who grouped around a battlefield cross, familiar to those who had served in Flanders and the Western Front and with a tray of poppies, they invited passers-by to plant a poppy in the vicinity of the cross.