Tuesday 20 January 2009

Nice and the south of France in January

For several years I have spent few days in January in the south of France staying near Antibes. The visits have usually taken place near the end of the month and have always been very lucky with the weather.

Visiting the picturesque village of Villefranche-sur-Mer (located a few kms along the coast to the east of Nice) on a Sunday have seen on the sheltered sandy beach, people in their bathing costumes and other people walking along the road a few metres away wearing fur coats.

Like anywhere there can be exceptional weather conditions, there was thick snow at Antibes on the 24th November 08 and Marseille came to a grinding halt as a result of the snow on the 7th January. Along the coast at Nice it was just wet and windy. Riviera Radio’s local French news reported that city authorities were being blamed for the chaos and not being prepared for the bad weather. That sounds similar criticism of local authorities back in England who are often accused of not being prepared!

Last year I went up to Gréolières-les-Neiges which is a small ski resort approximately three quarters of an hour drive from Nice. It was very hot around sixteen degrees in the snow and as you walked along you certainly did not need a jacket.

This year although I did not visit the area, apparently the snowfall had been much heavier and for someone wanting to take a ski holiday and many visitors stay closer to the coast and drive up to the resort each day. This means they have the benefit of more choice of accommodation and the towns and beaches along the coast to relax in when not skiing.

The city of Nice is well worth a visit at any time of the year, in January it is ideal for climbing up to the top of Le Château. You can of course take the lift or even drive; however a walk on a mild January day to the top of La Colline du Chateau with the panoramic views of the city, the mountains the sea and the airport in the distance. You can walk around to the other side and look down onto the Port. There are two cemeteries a Roman Catholic and a Jewish one standing side by side.

The new tram system is now well established. It opened in November 2007 some fifty three years after the old system was closed. The line has been incorporated well into the paving and grass on the streets and offers a very regular service.

There is an excellent choice of shops and department stores like Galeries Lafayette.

A visit to the Côte d'Azur would not be complete without a walk from Antibes old town to Cap d’Antibes. Park near the port and walk through the archway into the old town. Walk up to the ramparts and take in the view across to Baie des Anges (the interesting apartments built in a semi circle by the harbour), Nice Airport (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur) with the sun setting and walking along the coast past the beaches (The Plage du Ponteil and Le Salis beach ) and start to walk around the Cap.

The area is full of expensive property and one such villa was for sale with a For Sale board reflecting the new cliental in the Côte d'Azur. It was written in French, English and Russian.

A winter visit to the south of France would not be complete without going across the border into Italy. It takes under an hour to get there via the A8 autoroute and lunch by the sea at Bordighera. This area along the coast suffered a lot during the heavy storms in November with several sea front restaurants being destroyed.

Ventimiglia is the first town over the border. There is very large weekly market on a Friday attracting numerous visitors from Italy and over the border from France. The French are also attracted by the supermarkets and drink shops, as the duty of alcholol in Italy is much lower than in France and at the border with Menton there are outlets within ten metres of the border.
Driving back along the coast road in January is a pleasure. It can be very crowded in the summer months, back following the coast via Menton, into Monaco and Nice is great.
If you are thinking of going self catering take a look at the selection of holiday homes available at jmlvillas.com and Cotedazurrental.com of course don’t forget your travel insurance particularly if you are skiing!

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Ten traps to avoid when buying a French Property

Are you still thinking of buying that holiday home in France, maybe a retirement home or just somewhere to stay when you are working Paris or Nice.
The buying process is completely different to those in England and Wales, Scotland or Ireland.
Listed below are ten reminders to take into account.

1) Do not take things for granted : or assume that because things are done one way in your country, they will be done the same way in France.

2) Do not sign blind: it is not sensible to rely on the impartiality of an estate agent or the vendor, who is trying to sell you something, for advice. Take independent legal advice.

3) Do not misunderstand the role of the notaire: the notaire is not a solicitor. He is a public law official who does not, and cannot act in an adversarial capacity.

4) Do your homework: visit the Cadastre (land survey registry), Town Hall, the DDE (Direction Départementale de l’Equipement) and find out about planning and whether you can build.

5) Do not forget costs: agents are usually (but not always) paid by the vendor. 5 per cent is abut the minimum but it can be as much as 20 per cent. Costs and duties on property transactions in France are far higher then in England. Total cost will be about 7 per cent.

5) Do not use an offshore company to buy residential property: offshore companies will be liable to a series of heavy French Taxes.

7) Do not get involved in tax evasion: even if it is suggested, resist. You may be asked to pay part of the purchase price ‘under the table’, this saves the vendor capital gains tax but leaves yo exposed to reassessment later and to penalities.

8) Do not forget French inheritance law: in France there is the reserve légale for your children, or your parents if you have no children.

9) Do not make a separate wills: have an updated version of your Will. A specialist in French law can draft a Codicil dealing with the French property.

10) Do not forget French inheritance tax: in France the surviving the surviving spouse receives about 76,000 tax free, and starts paying tax up to 20 per cent. Each child has a nil rate band of 40,000 Euros.

Finally: Before getting involved with cross border issues, do take legal advice from someone qualified to give it.
Once you have completed the formalities, you might find that you want to let the property out for self catering holiday vacations. This is a great way of contributing towards the finance and advertising at jmlvillas.com only costs £11-75 per year. For that you can list the property on your own page with six large photos. There is pent of space on your page at jmlvillas.com to add details about the local area and attractions. You can also add prices and availability and change all these details (including the photos) whenever you want on-line.
2009 is going to be a much tougher year for holiday home owners who are letting their properties and jmlvillas.com is a very inexpensive way of advertising. Just think what it would cost for one small ad for one day in a Sunday newspaper, or a month's ad in a specialist magazine (that has a very small circulation!)
The advertisers for jmlvillas.com in France also have the benefit of having their property listed for FREE on villa-rental-france.com and in French on euro-villalocation.com and if it happens to be in the South of France on cotedazurrental.com !
Regardless of whether you let out the property or not, you must make sure that the property is well insured. The cover must allow for void periods when no one will be there and if you need to keep the electricity on (for heating, alarm etc), you should let the insurance company know when you first take out the insurance.
If you are not familiar with French and would prefer to have your insurance policy written in English have you considered using a specialist company back in the UK. Apart from covering France and Corsica, they also cover many other European countries.
jml-insurance.co.uk acts as an Introducer via their websites to Andrew Copeland International and Intasure and you can access their websites and get a quote or arrange cover by entering the "Overseas Property Insurance" section Here
Good luck with your house hunting in France.

Monday 12 January 2009

Sundance Villas at jmlvillas.com

Thinking of taking a holiday in Cyprus in 2009?

For several years Irene Hare has been advertising her villas on the euro-rentavilla.com and jmlvillas.com websites. It is a family run business based in Barnet, North London, offering villas in the Paphos region for rent at low owner's rates.

They have villas to suit all requirements and tastes. There are 1,2,3,4 & 5 bedroomed villas withown pools, and a couple of cottages without pools. Situated in the far Northeastern corner of the Mediterranean, Cyprus' climate is a great attraction with 340 days of sunshine every year.

Green turtles, history and fountains of fertility are all part of a villaholiday in Cyprus.

Cyprus is different, an intoxicating mix of traditional and contemporary.Young women still bathe (early before the guards arrive) in the icy coldwaters at the Baths of Aphrodite, to help with fertility. The rare green turtles are protected by the Lara Bay Conservation Project. The eggs are laid on this isolated sandy beach, situated within the AkamasNational Park.

A villa holiday (with your own private pool of course) is the best way to visit the island. Sundance Villas has a wide range of villas from Paphos to Polis, some of which are disabled friendly, and others have a bedroom on the ground floor.

If you are going to Cyprus for your holiday, don't forget to arrange car hire. jml Property Services are agents for Holiday Autos and Cyprus has plenty of attractions to view.

Dream Ireland Holiday Homes at jmlvillas.com

Dream Ireland Holiday Homes offer an incredible selection of over 2500 self catering holiday homes in more than 90 locations all around Ireland. Many of these holiday homes are advertised on jmlvillas.com
Ireland is a very popular location for visitors and the currency in the Republic is the € euro. This means that someone visiting Ireland from France, The Netherlands or another eurozone country need not be concerned about exchange rates that go up and down.
Once you arrive in Ireland you are bound to come across these popular words everywhere:

Fáilte welcome — céad mile fáilte a hundred thousand welcomes.
An Lár the middle — centre (like city centre etc)
Sláinte Good health — used when toasting in a pub for example.
Garda short form of garda síochána — Police in the Republic of Ireland
There is an Irish language TV station TG4 and you can listen to Gaeilgeon the Radio. RTÉ's Raidió na Gaeltachta more information on both these services can be found on line and there are several Irish Radio Stations that can be picked up on the SKY digital service.
If you are thinking of taking a Dream Ireland or other self catering holiday rental via jmlvillas.com, don't forget you can also arrange car hire via Irish Car Rentals Irish Car Rentals are one of the largest independent Car Rental Companies in Ireland and operate a fleet of over 2,500 new vehicles. They are represented at Dublin Airport, Shannon Airport, Kerry Airport and Cork Airport and have several other Car Rental locations in Ireland to select from. They can also arrange for delivery and collection to and from most parts of Ireland.
Ireland sounds like a Dream of a Holiday in 2009

Changes to French registration plates from 2009

From 2009 the department number will no longer be on the French registration plate.

The registration plates will no longer be black on white at the front and black on yellow at the rear as in the UK, but black on white on the front and rear as in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and many other European countries.

They will be made up of two letters, three numbers and two letters and will be allocated to a vehicle for life unlike presently if the owner moves from département to département.
It will be much easier to indentify new registered cars on the road and complications and costs when a resident moved from one département to another.

Car Hire company in France now providing safety extras

In July 2007 it became mandatory to have a reflective jacket and a triangle in your car. Like in Italy the jacket cannot be stored in the boot, but in the car itself in case you have to get out of the car in an emergency, which makes sense.

I was very pleased to see when I collected a Holiday Autos - National /Citer car in early January that inside the car was a green pouch containing a warning triangle and a reflective jacket. The pouch has instructions clearly stating that it must remain in the body of the car

The reflective vest is also compulsory in Italy, Belgium and Spain and in Spain you must carry reflective vests for all occupants and also carry two warning triangles. Drivers in Spain who wear glasses must carry a spare pair with them at all times.

Intasure launches policy for UK-based second homeowners

Holiday home insurance specialist, Intasure, has introduced a new policy for people who have their main residences in the UK but are absent for long periods.

The company, which provides policy documents in English and operates a UK based English-speaking support team, also provides cover for holiday homes across a number of European countries and further afield, in Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
The firm says its policies are designed around the needs of property owners and can include locally tailored cover.

The new policy for UK-domiciled holiday homeowners is being promoted by JML insurance, which points out that increasing numbers of British second homeowners are retired and can therefore spend long periods away from their main residences.

Unlike most home insurance policies, the Intasure product contains no restrictions on leaving a UK property unoccupied beyond the standard 30 days.

It can also provide cover if a property is let during the owner’s absence.

According to JML insurance, Intasure policies are underwritten by Lloyds of London and may also be suitable for properties of non standard construction.


Sunday 11 January 2009

The sunny Algarve in Portugal

Fed up with bad stories about the credit crunch crisis and the world economy?

Why not think about a self catering holiday in the Algarve in Portugal. At jmlvillas.com we have a wide range of large villas throughout the Algarve which can sleep up to 20 persons in unashamed luxury…private and secluded, just for you. Of course you are never far from a beach or two…..golf is taken for granted and lovely restaurants nearby for dinner. Lunch is naturally when the husbands fire up the BBQ by the pool and serve you with grilled prawns, chicken piri-piri and sizzling steaks. Why does food always taste better outside!

Book now so that you can choose the best and when you arrive at Faro airport you can rent a car from Holiday Autos and drive along the glorious coastline and check into your beautiful villa.

Albufeira, Almancil,Carvoeiro,Lagos, Loulé, Luz , Quinta do Lago, Tavira, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura are some of the beautfilul destinationations.

If you are thinking about a weekend break, have you thought of going to Lisbon. It is so close to the sea so you can combine city and sea along the Cascais - Estoril coastline.

It might be cold outside where you live at the moment, but think about the warm weather in Portugal in 2009.