Wednesday, 30 December 2015

THE LAST CURRENCY REPORT FOR 2015: The Pound continues to slide

With Christmas now behind us, we find ourselves in the annual lull before the New Year festivities. Despite the majority of the world enjoying an extended period of rest, the currency markets are still active. With global trade volume significantly reduced, it is during these times that we have often witness heightened volatility.

Just yesterday we saw GBP/EUR rates fluctuate by a cent, hitting a peak of 1.36, and a trough of 1.3498 at the mid-market. With sterling having struggled throughout the morning, only to recover most of the ground lost in the afternoon.

With best wishes for the New Year to all of our customers, from the Allez-Français team. We look forward to seeing you in 2016 – the year to make it happen……….

Friday, 18 December 2015

Guest post: Bringing vintage French decor to your door

France is well known for its flea-markets and ‘bric-a-brac’ fairs where all manner of items can be found for sale. Particularly at a ‘vide grenier’ (literally translated as ‘attic emptying’) in a rural village, there is always the hope that a priceless antique might be found amongst the junk!

Vintage French decor is a much sought after style, with old furniture and accessories being repurposed and repainted - even modern homes and furnishings get a makeover for that ‘shabby chic’ look.

Not everyone has the time to do this themselves, but we offer a ‘Sourcing Service’ for original French furniture and accessories. Based in the Poitou Charentes for many years, we have been running Chateau Chic Direct and we will find and despatch a range of original items to anywhere in the world!

So even if you have not already purchased your dream property in France, you can still give a French feel to your home. All you need to do is contact me with a list of your specific requirements, and I will do my best to find the item for you!

Visit website or email
Sue Paine - owner of Chateau Chic Direct

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

A new region of South Western France

Aquitaine / Limousin / Poitou-Charentes is the new region of South Western France, created by the territorial reform of French Regions in 2014 via the merger of Aquitaine, Limousin, and Poitou-Charentes regions.

It will now encompass 84,061 km2 (32,456 sq miles), or put another way 1/7th of the country - and will have 5.8 M inhabitants.

The new region will be the largest region in France, with an area roughly equal of Austria. Its largest city, Bordeaux, together with its suburbs and satellite cities, forms the 7th Metropolitan area of France, with 850,000 inhabitants.

The region has many urban areas among which the most important are, apart from Bordeaux and its 1,140,000 inhabitants, Bayonne and Limoges (each having 283,000 inhabitants), Poitiers (255 000), Pau (241 000) and La Rochelle (206 000).

Apart from the Ile-de-France, Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes is the first French region in research and innovation, with its 5 universities (Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Limoges, Poitiers & Pau).
The premier agricultural region of Europe in terms of turnover, it will also be the 1st French region in terms of tourism jobs, & the 5th region in terms of business creation (all sectors).

Its economy is based strongly upon agriculture and viticulture (vineyards of Bordeaux and Cognac are of course Internationally famed), on tourism, on a successful aerospace industry, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, plus a financial sector (Niort specialices in mutual insurance companies) and a world renowned ceramics industry (Limoges).

Fact & Figures

Aquitaine Limousin Poitou Charentes
Gironde 1,483,000 Haute Vienne 371,000 Charente Maritime 605,000
Pyrénées Atlantique 660,000 Corrèze 242,000 Vienne 422,000
Dordogne 416,000 Creuse 123,000 Deux Sèvres 363,000
Landes 392,000 Charente 350,000
Lot & Garonne 332,000
 Coastline 720 Km

Monday, 7 December 2015

Guest blog: Gorgeous Gascony

Passing en-route to southern Europe, my partner and I discovered this area purely by chance. Utterly seduced by the peacefulness, the rolling countryside, and the gentle pace of life, we bought a ruin to renovate. Our intention was to live partly here and partly in the UK – but after starting work on our house, we just didn’t want to go back ‘home’. So we didn’t ….

Lovers of France flock to the Côte d’Azur, or Provence, or the Dordogne, and each region has good reasons for its popularity. But Gascony is in an entirely different league. These are ‘the roads less travelled’ that lead to places the crowds have yet to reach. Places that are all the finer for their uninterrupted seclusion. South of the Dordogne, west of Languedoc, north of the Pyrenees and steeped in history, Gascony remains ‘far from the madding crowd’ …. and that is precisely what makes it so attractive.

Gascon villages and towns boast some of the finest examples of medieval French and Renaissance architecture in Europe. At the heart of the region is the Gers département, and at the heart of the Gers is the capital, Auch. Home to the Comte d’Artagnan, who inspired the swashbuckling hero of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, and UNESCO World Heritage Site the Cathédrale de Sainte-Marie, Auch is a handsome city brimming with Gascon flair. Weekly markets are an important part of life and the squares bustle with activity … until midday, that is, when everything stops and Gascons get down to the serious business of lunch.

In France, this region is renowned for its first-class cuisine – and a nutritional/medical phenomenon known as the ‘Gascon Paradox’. Traditionally rich specialities like cassoulet and duck confit are perfectly balanced by robust local wines. With the emphasis on the quality of the ingredients, this hearty food, simply served, could explain why life expectancy here is the highest in France.
For anyone who appreciates the gentler, personable traditions of rural life and yearns for a tranquillity seldom found in modern times, the Gers is the Promised Land. There are still property bargains to be found, and the current exchange rate means your pound will go further. Humble cottages, fabulous farmhouses, maisons de maître and châteaux are typically built from local stone and timber-frame ‘colombage’. Further east in the Tarn & Garonne département, the cream-coloured stone gives way to reddish-pink terracotta brick, which earned Toulouse the nickname ‘la ville rose’. The vibrant capital of the Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Despite its rich culture and history, it is today a symbol of modernism and home to the French aerospace industry. Not to mention stunning Romanesque squares, museums, amazing markets, shops for every age group and, of course, gourmet restaurants for every taste.

With low-cost airlines flying into Toulouse Blagnac airport, Gascony is very easy to reach. And there is so much to see and enjoy here ….. with the feeling that there is all the time in the world to enjoy it.

Guest blogger: Lisa Maitland
Managing the Gascony area for Allez-Francais, particularly the Gers and Tarn & Garonne departments.

Contact details : Lisa Maitland 05 63 65 93 37 / 07 86 80 45 46 /