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Crisis Stings Britons In France And Spain

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Crisis Stings Britons in France and Spain

A stumbling British economy is doing what the French have not been able to do in 200 years: rout the British.

For more than a decade, Englishmen have been one of Britain’s biggest cross-channel exports: they bought second homes in French villages, or even retired there. They came to make up as much as one-fifth of the population in some French villages.

But now the flow of Britons is slowing and, in some cases, reversing course.

Only instead of bidding them a relieved adieu, many of the French are longing for them — and their money — to stay.

Some expatriates have already headed back to Britain, while the movement of others has been curtailed by the stagnant housing market on both sides of the English Channel, though a hard core is determined to remain and pursue the French dream, whatever turmoil rocks the global economy.

In 1996, Patricia and Steve Mansfield-Devine bought a dilapidated farm, dating from about 1500, in the village of Saint-Siméon, in the Orne area of northwestern France. The goal was to escape London’s crowds, creaking services and the sense that post-Thatcher Britain had become less social and too corporate.

“It was purgatory,†Mrs. Mansfield-Devine said of her previous life working in the media.

They started commuting back and forth and moved to France permanently in 1999, upgrading the four-bedroom property with its two barns, former pigpen, a bread oven and two and a half acres of land, all shared with six cats, a dog and occasional visitors like snakes, deer, voles and barn owls.

The strength of the euro, up about 30 percent since late 2007 against the pound, has affected them like countless others.

“Don’t get me started on the exchange rate,†said Mrs. Mansfield-Devine, 46, who earns a living writing books and articles and running Web sites. (Her husband is a writer and photographer.)

From the 1990s until the recent bust, a property boom propelled British housing to new heights, allowing Britons to leverage their increasing worth to buy property in places like France and Spain, either as vacation or primary homes. Now that the financial crisis has burst the real estate bubble in Britain and sunk the formerly high-flying pound, the legions who crossed the channel are finding it trickier to achieve their idyll.

“We’ve never known it so bad,†Mrs. Mansfield-Devine said. She supplements their pound-based income by making jewelry, growing fruit and bargaining with local farmers. Luxuries like vacations are being delayed.

According to data from the European Union based on national censuses, there were 133,000 British living permanently in France in 2005, making France second only to Spain, with 205,000 Britons. By 2008, the number in Spain had risen to 354,000. France does not have more recent data, but some estimates put the number now at closer to 200,000 — with as many second-home owners.

Most of the Britons in France are concentrated near the channel ports of Normandy and Brittany in northwestern France; in the Dordogne — known to some as “Dordogneshire†— of south-central France, and farther south in Provence.

There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence that the number of Britons in France is dwindling, albeit falling short of an exodus.

Grainne Cavanagh, director of the Road Ahead, a moving company near Biarritz specializing in transfers between Britain and the Continent, started noting a change about a year ago.

“Absolutely, without a doubt,†the number of British heading to France has fallen, and some are heading back to Britain, she said. As a result, business has fallen by about 50 percent so far this year from two years ago. The company has cut prices 15 percent and relies more on city-to-city moves by professionals than on transfers by families or retirees to the countryside.

In Mayenne, a town of about 15,000 in the Pays de la Loire in northwestern France, Nicole Devel-Laigle, 52, is president of the Euro-Mayenne Association, which fosters integration between foreigners — primarily the British — and locals. She said the number in her association surged fourfold between 2000 and 2004, to 500; it now stood at 363.

“The Brits aren’t coming anymore, and there are no people to replace them,†said Paul Climance, 64, vice president of the association. He sold his house in Liverpool to buy in Lassay-les-Châteaux, a pretty town of 2,500, and he is happy with the move even though the buying power of his pound-denominated pension has dwindled.

Despite its immaculate lawns, rose gardens and fine castle, the town is suffering from economic decline. A number of its stores recently closed.

Nearby, in the tiny village of Couesmes-Vaucé, Chris Worthington, 48, ekes out a living at Le Local, a grocery store and small bar, which offers curry nights, quizzes and a British roast meal on Sundays. A fish-and-chip van stops by every two weeks.

Mr. Worthington moved over to escape “the traffic, the vandalism and the drugs†in Milton Keynes, north of London, and to seek a better life for his wife and daughter. “We’re just scraping a living,†he said, leaning over the bar. “Last year was dreadful,†hit by the currency change, the decline in tourists and the smoking ban. “A lot of the people who came over retired young because they could afford to,†he said. “Some have gone back to Britain. Most are tightening their belts and waiting.â€

“Lifestyles have changed,†said Rob Kent, founder of Kentington’s, a financial adviser with a mainly British clientele in the Provençal town of Cotignac. “Some of them came here expecting the life of Riley,†he said. “For many, that’s finished.â€

The profile of the British who are still here is varied, including retirees, divorced people, odd-jobbers working outside the French system, artists, ex-convicts, teachers, tractor drivers and those in services that allow them to work from home. Few are salaried employees at French companies.

Others, like Andrew McNamara, 40, are hedging by keeping jobs in Britain.

Having sold property there at the top of the market a few years ago, he bought in France and relocated with his wife and four daughters.

Currently on a career break, he is retaining his post in the fire service. Before the break, he had been commuting 190 miles by car and ferry to work.

For the French, the invasion is double-edged. Some were able to sell property to the newcomers at inflated prices; others complain that rising property prices added to an exodus of locals, who found themselves priced out of the market.

“I like the English a lot,†said Valérie Longrais, 46, who runs a clothing and knitting store in Lassay-les-Châteaux. “But many have come and bought houses, used their own materials and employed British people. So the local population hasn’t always benefited.â€

The British, for their part, say they find the French cordial, if ambivalent, hosts. And many are determined to stick it out.

The Euro-Mayenne Association recently held its first “Evening at the Music Hall,†where enthusiastic amateurs in period clothing belted out old British favorite songs like “Burlington Bertie from Bow,†joined for the choruses by nostalgic retirees.

“This area is very much like when we were 8, 9 or 10, living in Lancashire,†Peter Batty, 72, said over tea with scones, cream and jam before the show. “Here, there’s still an enormous sense of respect for property and old world values.â€

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Guest redwine

the usual newspaper article that says it all really

i do disagree with with mme valerie longrais saying that the french made nothing out of the british

as for saying the the locals were priced out and had to leave the town because of the british its another lie

the french put there own prices up there was a massive housing bubble here prices are still sky high

i don't think that the 200000 brits in france (if true no data as the article says ) are going to make a big impact on 65 million french

its always easy to say that house prices are going up because of the foreigner

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the usual newspaper article that says it all really

i do disagree with with mme valerie longrais saying that the french made nothing out of the british

as for saying the the locals were priced out and had to leave the town because of the british its another lie

the french put there own prices up there was a massive housing bubble here prices are still sky high

i don't think that the 200000 brits in france (if true no data as the article says ) are going to make a big impact on 65 million french

its always easy to say that house prices are going up because of the foreigner

it only takes one high bid on a house in a village to set the price for all the others...its how markets work dontchaknow.

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Guest sillybear2

Looks like ponzi money has to be replaced with old fashioned hard work, and people are not liking that.

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Guest redwine
it only takes one high bid on a house in a village to set the price for all the others...its how markets work dontchaknow.

the french housing market is as dead as a dodo there are over one million properties on the market

as for one bid and they all do the same must be a sort of sheep effect or everybody thinks and does the same

you should always rent before buying abroad

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Some of us have high savings/low pensions & are thus little affected because we could switch currencies; albeit in a mild state of panic :)

Others have low savings/high pensions & live at the edge because the income is 'guaranteed'.;

& we have met plenty of these smug barstewards on our travels

(unfair:- some are good folk)

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the french housing market is as dead as a dodo there are over one million properties on the market

as for one bid and they all do the same must be a sort of sheep effect or everybody thinks and does the same

you should always rent before buying abroad

bit like here then....a shortage :lol:

Im going over in a couple of weeks camping. looking forward to a few Mille fueilles!

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Guest redwine
bit like here then....a shortage :lol:

Im going over in a couple of weeks camping. looking forward to a few Mille fueilles!

look for a campsite with a bar-b-que then you can have some grilled merguez and chipolatas not for getting cotes de porc

washed down with chilled rosé wine

france still has its good points :P

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look for a campsite with a bar-b-que then you can have some grilled merguez and chipolatas not for getting cotes de porc

washed down with chilled rosé wine

france still has its good points :P

Marry me...today...you can even have my babies.

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bit like here then....a shortage :lol:

Im going over in a couple of weeks camping. looking forward to a few Mille fueilles!

Me too, looks like thats how we will be doing it from now on.

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look for a campsite with a bar-b-que then you can have some grilled merguez and chipolatas not for getting cotes de porc

washed down with chilled rosé wine

france still has its good points :P

How gauche! :P Give it some oomph - try some Sangre de Toro.

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How gauche! :P Give it some oomph - try some Sangre de Toro.

knowing mrs loo, i think we will be shipping the alcopop with us....pink zinfandel....although we may be arrested at the border for bringing in contraband.

Edited by Bloo Loo

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Guest redwine
How gauche! :P Give it some oomph - try some Sangre de Toro.

all they eat in spain is paella or sardines then they get drunk and go and torture to death some bulls

then they eat them in an ambiance of spainish noise or music as they call it there

whats wrong with a bar-be -que i enjoyed my merguez this afternoon theres nothing "gauche" about it?

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all they eat in spain is paella or sardines then they get drunk and go and torture to death some bulls

then they eat them in an ambiance of spainish noise or music as they call it there

whats wrong with a bar-be -que i enjoyed my merguez this afternoon theres nothing "gauche" about it?

I thought they all eat Pie beans and chips ? Then got wasted on Carling and watched a classic Fawlty Towers.

They then eat more pies in a wee UJ covered boozer in the ambience of a classic mix - Now 14.

Or is that only certain areas of Spain ?

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all they eat in spain is paella or sardines then they get drunk and go and torture to death some bulls

then they eat them in an ambiance of spainish noise or music as they call it there

whats wrong with a bar-be -que i enjoyed my merguez this afternoon theres nothing "gauche" about it?

I meant fizzy pop with your pork. It's San Juan in 3 weeks and if took fizzy pop like that to go with the pork at the beach barbecues, I would be wearing it! :P

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Guest redwine
I meant fizzy pop with your pork. It's San Juan in 3 weeks and if took fizzy pop like that to go with the pork at the beach barbecues, I would be wearing it! :P

my mistake never heard of sangre de toro

i thought it was sang in french meaning blood

de (of) toro ie bull so i thought that you had some sort weird drink there

still prefer a bottle of rosé than fizzy pop

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my mistake never heard of sangre de toro

i thought it was sang in french meaning blood

de (of) toro ie bull so i thought that you had some sort weird drink there

still prefer a bottle of rosé than fizzy pop

Correct. As I said, a bit more powerful than rosé or even sparkling rosé aka fizzy pop. The Spanish wouldn't bring it to a beach barbecue to go with pork (sardines possibly). Each to their own.

Sparkling rosé wine is especially very famous as it is one of the few wines that taste really good with the sparkle rather than without it. As is obvious, rose wines are red wines. These wines taste real good and have an aroma. After carbon dioxide is added during bottling, sparkling rose wine is ready and once opened, the contents will fizz out. Generally, carbon dioxide is filled up to a pressure of 2 to 3 atmospheres in these bottles and one must be careful not to subject the bottle of vigorous vibrations, or the contents can splash out.

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Correct. As I said, a bit more powerful than rosé or even sparkling rosé aka fizzy pop. The Spanish wouldn't bring it to a beach barbecue to go with pork (sardines possibly). Each to their own.

Sparkling rosé wine is especially very famous as it is one of the few wines that taste really good with the sparkle rather than without it. As is obvious, rose wines are red wines. These wines taste real good and have an aroma. After carbon dioxide is added during bottling, sparkling rose wine is ready and once opened, the contents will fizz out. Generally, carbon dioxide is filled up to a pressure of 2 to 3 atmospheres in these bottles and one must be careful not to subject the bottle of vigorous vibrations, or the contents can splash out.

Rosé wine making

First of all Rosé wine is not a blending of red and white wine (abstraction made of the exceptional case of Champagne Rosé).

Rosé wine is made from red grape-varieties. And, nowadays, many winemakers mix a certain amount of white grapes with the red.

The elaboration of rosé wine is delicate. It is probably why the amateur is sometimes disappointed by the quality of a rosé. Particularity, European rosé is "dry". On the contrary, American rosé is sweet and similar to white wine.

There are at least three methods of making rosé wine:

Gray or pale rosé wine

The grapes are pressed as soon as they arrive in the cellar. It allows a quicker diffusion of the color in the must.

The juice is left a very short time in contact with the skin. No more than a few hours! That way the must is delicately colored.

Rosé wine is then made in the same way as a white wine, fermentation of the must cleared of solid elements with out any more maceration. The winemaker obtains a gray or pale rosé wine (for Gris de Bourgogne or Rosé de Loire).

Colored pink wine

To obtain a colored pink wine the grapes are put in the fermentation tank after having been crushed. The juice quickly enriches itself in alcohol with the temperature going up (in the tank).

At the contact of the solid element the color quickly diffuses. The winemaker chooses the intensity of the color by controlling a sample every hour. When he is satisfied he devattes.

The wine is evacuated in another tank to finish fermenting. The must left in the original tank is evacuated and not used for rosé any more.

The bleeding

To obtain an even more intense color, once an hour, during the initial fermentation the winemaker takes out of the tank a certain amount of juice.

When the color is satisfying, the wine making process goes on as for a white wine. Rosé de Provence are obtain by that method.

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Guest redwine
Correct. As I said, a bit more powerful than rosé or even sparkling rosé aka fizzy pop. The Spanish wouldn't bring it to a beach barbecue to go with pork (sardines possibly). Each to their own.

Sparkling rosé wine is especially very famous as it is one of the few wines that taste really good with the sparkle rather than without it. As is obvious, rose wines are red wines. These wines taste real good and have an aroma. After carbon dioxide is added during bottling, sparkling rose wine is ready and once opened, the contents will fizz out. Generally, carbon dioxide is filled up to a pressure of 2 to 3 atmospheres in these bottles and one must be careful not to subject the bottle of vigorous vibrations, or the contents can splash out.

rosé wine is red wine it is made through a system called the bleeding of the vats or saigneè as the french call it

but it is not a fizzy drink i drank an italian rosé injected with carbon dioxide it gave me a headache

afterall it is a cheap summer wine and it is not champagne

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