Life in a foreign country can be difficult and that's where Survive France wins every time for me - help, advice, virtual hugs on those difficult days. And yes, we've all shared problems or sought advice on dealing with tax issues or getting the Carte Vitale. We are a very supportive bunch here on SFN but sometimes it can feel a bit negative.

So why not a good news only page? Maybe you got an unexpected booking, contract, a tax refund (no, sorry that's meant for the fantasy page). You know what I mean.

I'll start. This week a lady from our village said she'd like painting lessons. Great. She turned up at the appointed hour - with a friend! So now we've two new clients.

This morning I got up and found Catharine's post about the new 4 year CFE regime for AEs. This definitely qualifies for the Good News page for all of us who are AE.

So that's my tuppence worth. Hope there are a few more to come.

Wow! Well done! What a nice man. What's the address Suzanne!!??? ......only kidding. LOL ;-)

Peter - CFE = Cotisation Foncieres Entreprises - it's a business tax for AEs (Auto-Entrepreneurs) think self employed in France.

last week I actually got a free lunch...literally. I went out for lunch with the mother in law, to find the restaurant had just opened that day, they were having a few issues and couldn't do the full menu (which didn't bother us as they could do what we wanted) anyway at the end of the meal the manager came and told us lunch was on him...including the drinks, desserts and coffees! Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch??

CFE regime for AEs? One is suppose to expect to know The jargon. But I Don't.

Hi Sheila,

Totally agree - life in France can be difficult but if your sense of humour allows, you can smile at all the traumas we have faced sometimes. Wouldn't swap it though!

My good news is we are alive and well! I haven't got my post yet so I don't yet know the suprises that are in store!

Would you do me a favour by redirecting me to Catherine's post about the new 4 year CFE regime for AEs? Many thanks


I believe you are from the USA therefore would not have had the same conditions as EEA/EFTA people. I got my right of permanent residency because I am married to a Swiss citizen and our children are Swiss (dual nats actually, but what the hell). My Algerian brother-in-law who has lived there for over 30 years still has to renew his Carte de Séjours annually, despite both marriages there to Swiss and his three children all only Swiss.

I have mainly done field based research, assessment and evaluation or situation analysis, so out of a Geneva base but seldom there at the Palais des Nations or wherever the agency I was working for is. Personnel always handled contracts within the agencies so apart from my signature it was almost seamless and my IT access was always by agency rather than as part of the bigger UNICC network, except when I was in Beijing when I did and I must say that then, 2009, it was superb and made my job easier - albeit only accessible from within the 'diplomatic colony' where UNICEF and the other agencies are based.

France, for all it faults, is bureaucratically easier than Switzerland which is, apart from not affording to live there, one of the reasons we do not and can not live there.

Brian, I managed the computer operations of a major data center run by UN International Computing Centre which was a IT service bureau to 24 UN and International organizations in Geneva, NYC, Washington DC (PATHO), Rome and Brindisi, Italy. Of course, the organizations all had branch offices all over the world connected to us as well. I didn't have any Carte de Sejour problems. It was just a pain in the tail to drive 2 hours to pick up the Carte every year when the process to receive it took one minute. However, the Prefecture would not send them via the mail after 1994. I'm not sure how consultants got their residency in Switzerland where the data center was located. I did hire consultants but their residency matters were handled by Personnel. BTW, UNICEF, ILO and WHO were all members of the UNICC partnership and thus were our customers for various services from mainframe, LAN, télécoms or systems development. We are now Lucky to live in our Prefecture so the drive is now only 10 minutes and the process of pickup is still one minute.

There you go, Vic, one man's viande is another man's poisson!

Maybe it's our ignorance but we've never had a problem. We wash 'em, (tomatoes that is) cut 'em in half & pack' em in Kilner jars with a bit of salt. The jars are then immersed in water, brought to the boil & boiled at about 80 deg for 1/2 hour & left in the water until the next day. We have a big galvanised thing which was given to us & is designed to boil these things. No explosions & dodgy stomach so far. Can't be arsed with beans as they are cheap as chips when bought frozen at the supermarket. Our 8m x 5 m tunnel grows too many toms. We still have about 15 kg of green uns on the vine which will have to go as we also have a shed load of green tomato chutney in stock.

Probably no portables with cameras and social media in those days. People used to walk their dogs in Epping Forest now it's something else canine and Cruft's it ain't.

I used to know a young entrepreneur with a Land Rover, who made a part time living rescuing people who had got their cars stuck in Epping Forest. He said they were often extremely generous, especially when assured of his complete discretion!

Herself does all those here too, Mike. I just have the spuds and cabbage to look after :)

I am a lazy gardener and don't bother with things that don't look after themselves. But there are enough things that do well here for us not to feel deprived. Runner beans, courgettes, parsnips, leeks, potimarrons, raspberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, hazelnuts, apples and pears all thrive in our soil and climate.

One of my neighbours a local farmer and "partner" of one of our councillors is always running out of road. I had to get him out of the river once at about 1am in thick fog and get him home. He had no recollection the next day. Another time I found him asleep on the back seat of his car in the middle of a field at about 11pm. His extreme drinking renders his fierce insults of the local Brits rather meaningless.

I forgot the eyjits who overtake and then pull in and brake suddenly leaving you with little breaking (sic) distance. One day somebody will get a boot full of 4x4 but as Brian says it will be my fault.

Tomatoes weren't too good here in the southern Alps either, Mike. Long to take off and didn't produce very many. Hundreds of prunes though, and good cabbage and spuds.

Well at least being before your time means you did not get the broom, mops, bucket, cleaning cloths... That, my friend, is probably the greatest trauma on that score :-(

Yep, that would explain it! ;-)

But in desperation you could wander around filling glasses and drinking the bubbles. Fermented beans smell to high heaven and then clearing them up... Well I just happened not to be doing anything else, so... Parboil and freeze, no risk!

Haven't had any success with tomatoes here in Basse Normandie, big problems with blight. Step-son has no trouble growing them in pots on his balcony near Lyon.
Brian has answered the bottling question. Something happened in the family history, long before I came on the scene, but it was obviously deeply traumatizing!
Did you know that Champagne producers have insurance against injury claims due to exploding bottles? I bet they go off with a bang!