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As Christmas starts to be visible in France the stores in England are getting ready to reduce the prices of decorations. The expectation created in France will always be greater than the event itself.   As for the UK it’s just bloody stupid.   And Vendredi Noir, well that’s just another calendar item. Did you see any Black Friday Hallmark cards yet?  It won’t be long.


I did see an airline, of whom I had never previously heard, selling a load of seats off today at 1€ a pop in an aircraft I don’t think I have flown on - Boeing 717? They appear to be Spanish and have a squillion routes or thereabouts, perhaps they are worth checking out? I think you may have to book yesterday though.


Things are hotting up with Turkey threatening to open up the flow of migrants into Europe again, did someone reneg on a deal made earlier in the year? I suppose the handling of the coup has slightly coloured the situation.


Do you think Deliveroo and Uber will ever make it to the villages of France profonde?






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Lost in France

Lost in France is not written by Steve and he is not responsible for my views and comments.

dalidaIt could be the end of Sarkozy as he may be heading off to jail.  But the vote on Sunday 20th November seems to be saying that there is something bubbling under the surface which might lead to a few surprises next year.

Francois Fillon’s heroine is Margaret Thatcher.  Change could be on the way as he is very much in favour of what is termed the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ model.   One of the socialist opponents of Fillon may be Emmanuel Macron who is a former investment banker – of course.  So what is going on?   

But it wouldn’t it be interesting if the next French president had a British wife as Penny Fillon is Welsh?  And from Madam Fillon I went in search of information about Macron’s wife, Brigitte Trogneux and I found a particularly vitriolic and controversial blog called ‘Lady Waterloo’ …and does she rip into Madame Macron!  She was once his teacher at school.  I then was led to a video of the chanteuse Dalida singing about falling in love with a boy much younger than her.  So however much I whinge and complain about things in la vie française I do love doing this little piece, it leads me to such unusual places.



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New French legislation worries investors who have ‘Fonds en euros’ in their assurances vie policies.


There has been concern for some time, about how plummeting bond yields may affect the extremely popular ‘fonds en euros’ (by far the most popular choice for French investors in assurances vie policies). The question is how life insurers are going to be able to continue paying an acceptable annual return to their policyholders, while sovereign bonds offer increasingly low (or even negative) returns?


To explain, these ‘fonds en euros’ have to guarantee capital whilst paying a bonus every year. The only way that a fund manager can be sure of meeting this obligation is to put the vast majority of investors’ money into French government bonds. By doing so, they fund government debt to the tune of trillions of euros.


As recently as 2007, they were paying an attractive 5% per annum net. This has now fallen to about 2.5% and are set to fall further, almost certainly to under 2% for 2016. With bond rates at historically low levels, they should now only be paying about 1%, but companies have been dipping into their reserves as they fear that such a low rate would lead to a mass exodus from these policies. This has inevitably caused concerns about the financial stability of the insurance companies.


There have been several recent developments:

1) The state has imposed new reporting requirements on life insurers from 1 January 2016 under which they are obliged to provide details of policies with a value of more than €7,500. This is to assist the fight against money laundering but it could also be used to test the solvency of insurance companies.


2) For the past few years, the French Ministry of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of France have been consistently urging life insurers to lower returns on their ‘fonds en euros’. This has not been sufficiently acted upon and the government has now passed an amendment to Article 21a of the law "Sapin 2"


Voted in secret on June 23 (with the French population concentrating on their imminent summer holidays and the euphoria of the European Cup!), the new legislation passed virtually unnoticed by the mainstream media.


There were very few immediate reactions, even though some members of parliament were taken aback by this amendment when it was presented to them to vote on by the MP proposing the bill.


The government, as has often happened in the past, conveniently happened to be going on their own summer holiday immediately afterwards. This avoided their having to answer any awkward questions, had this matter happened to come to the attention of the media!


Whether this legislation ever needs to be acted upon depends on government bond and bank interest rates. However, the future certainly looks bleak for investors in ‘fonds en euros’ (probably 90% of all French assurance vie policyholders).


What does this new law actually say and how will it affect you?


The final decision as to whether this law comes into force now lies with France’s ‘Constitutional Council’. A decision is expected by mid-December.


Assuming it is approved, it will give the ‘Financial Stability Board’ (‘HCSF’) the power to 'suspend, delay or limit temporarily, for all or part of the portfolio, withdrawals or the option to switch funds’.


The implications of this are clear: overnight, at the request of Governor of the Bank of France, the HCSF may prohibit you carrying out all normal policy operations, including withdrawals and fund ‘switches’.


In short, some or all of your assets could be frozen for “a period of 3 months, renewable" (i.e. for whatever time is required for the crisis threatening an insurance company to pass). It is not inconceivable that your investment could be reduced in value in order to avoid an insurance company becoming insolvent. Article L.612-33 of the Monetary and Financial Code provides the means for this reduction to be imposed. It is not known how this would affect the official guarantee of €70,000 for every assurance vie policy.


People are becoming increasingly disturbed, and rightly so, that this draconian law will now allow the authorities, in total disregard of contract law, to deprive you of access to your money!


However, on closer inspection, the powers given by this new legislation were already granted to the ACPR (Prudential Control Authority and Resolution) by Article L. 612-33 of the Monetary and Financial Code, as follows:


“If the solvency or liquidity of a person or institution subject to supervision by the Authority or when the interests of its customers, policyholders, members or beneficiaries, are compromised, the Prudential Control Authority shall take the necessary precautionary measures [...] it can, as such: [...] 7. instruct a person or institution [...] to suspend or limit payment of cash values, the option of switching investments, or the granting of policy loans."


One should remember that similar provisions exist in the banking sector. The directive on the recovery and resolution of banking crises (BRRD) authorizes freezing of clients’ assets and potential loss of money in bank accounts, in case of any difficulty that might lead to insolvability..


The new version of the text is intended to prevent and reverse the effects of a contagion that could affect assurance vie investors in the event of a severe financial crisis, It is designed "to preserve the stability of the financial system or prevent risks seriously threatening insurance companies or a significant number of them."


Clearly, these measures are intended to protect insurers, especially if investor panic sets in and there were mass surrenders of assurance vie contracts, an event which insurers would be hard pressed to cope with. They are holding bonds with maturity dates of ten or even thirty years from now. To try and offload €1.5 trillion of bonds would just not be possible.


How to react ?


One suspects that this situation is worrying insurers because they are struggling to meet the expectations of their investors. This is eating into their reserves and, regardless of the prospect of an eventual increase in bond yields, some of them could find themselves in a precarious situation in the months and years to come.


The threat is therefore not just a short term one.


Of course, it would be reassuring to think that worried investors would not panic and withdraw their money from these policies, knowing that this would only exacerbate the situation.


Policyholders are all too well aware that if they rush en masse to cash in their contracts, they could actually cause the assets in these policies to be frozen. But is that going to stop them trying to be ‘first in the queue’ and avoid the suspension of withdrawals?

The ideal scenario would be for investors to stay calm and avoid possible future difficulties by gradually switching out of ‘fonds en euros’ to other assets (unit linked multi-asset funds, property funds, etc). We will see if this is what happens.

In spite of all this, assurance vie remains an attractive investment, especially in view of its advantageous tax benefits. Investors therefore have to weigh up the advantages compared to what is obviously an increased element of risk. In particular, those who took out policies prior to reaching their 70th birthday risk losing valuable Inheritance Tax advantages.


Fortunately, there are companies who offer policies domiciled outside of France (in Dublin, for example) who should be completely immune to this French legislation. These also offer the possibility of initially investing in sterling, thus avoiding the need to convert pounds to euro at the current low exchange rate.




Derek Winsland

Chartered Financial Planner

Mobile: 0771 71 95 52



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Some vide greniers and foires!
Please check before setting off
They also have a sister site where you can giveaway stuff or find stuff others are giving
Its all recycling - you know it makes sense!
If there are two in the same town on the same day, it could be a duplicate on the site or a second event
Black = Aude - Brown = Ariege

Samedi 26 Novembre

Coursan  Vide grenier des Cigalles

Coursan  Vide grenier Route de Cuxac

Gruissan  Playmobil

Pieusse  Bourse aux jouets et vêtements

Villeneuve-la-Comptal  Bourse aux jouets et la puériculture

Vinassan  Bourse aux jouets

Foix  Antiquites-brocante de noël

Mazères  Bourse multi collections

Saverdun  Vide grenier, marché aux puces et bourse aux livres

Dimanche 27 Novembre

Alzonne  Bourse aux jouets

Armissan  Bourse aux jouets, puériculture, vêtements enfants, livres

Azille  Vide grenier téléthon

Bagnoles  Bourse aux jouets

Carcassonne  Vide grenier brocante

Carlipa  Bourse aux jouets

Coursan  Vide grenier Route de Cuxac

Fleury  Marché de Noël et vide grenier

Gruissan  Playmobil

Lasbordes  Bourse aux jouets

Malras  Bourse aux jouets et vide dressing

Narbonne  Bourse aux jouets et livres

Narbonne  Vide grenier

Névian  Bourse aux jouets

Pauligne  Vide dressing

Pépieux  Bourse aux jouets

Pexiora  Bourse aux jouets et vêtements d’hiver

Port-la-Nouvelle  Bourse aux jouets de l’amicale des pompiers

Roubia  Bourse aux jouets et puériculture

Villalbe  Bourse aux jouets

Villegailhenc  Bourse aux jouets et vide dressing

Daumazan-sur-Arize  Bourse aux jouets et articles de puériculture

Foix  Antiquites-brocante de noël

Mercus-Garrabet  Vide grenier

Pamiers  Vide grenier brocante

Saverdun  Bourse aux jouets

Tarascon-sur-Ariège  Vide grenier annuel au profit du telethon

Varilhes  Vide grenier brocante sur la D624

Verniolle  Vide jouets



Samedi 3 Décembre

Aigues-Vives  Marché de Noël

Bélesta  Marché de Noël

Mirepoix  Marché de Noël

Montgailhard  Marché de Noël

Prat-Bonrepaux  Marché de Noël 

Coursan  Bourse aux jouets

Coursan  Vide grenier Route de Cuxac

Espéraza  Bourse aux jouets d’occasion

Narbonne  Gratiféria ou espace de gratuité

Quillan  Vide grenier au profit du téléthon

Saint-Lizier  Brocante du téléthon

Dimanche 4 Décembre

Bages  Bourse aux jouets et vide dressing

Carcassonne  Vide grenier brocante

Cépie  Bourse aux jouets

Coursan  Vide grenier Route de Cuxac

Leucate  Vide grenier du rugby

Limoux  Brocante

Narbonne  Vide grenier Rue Ernest Cognacq

Narbonne  Vide grenier à coté Emmaüs

Pennautier  Vide dressing et bourse aux jouets

Port-la-Nouvelle  Bourse aux jouets

Puicheric  Vide grenier et Marché de Noël


Sigean  Bourse aux jouets

Villeneuve-Minervois  Bourse aux jouets et vêtements

Mazères  Vide grenier

Mirepoix  Bourse toutes collections

Pamiers  Vide grenier brocante

Varilhes  Vide grenier brocante su la D624

Samedi 10 Décembre

Coursan  Vide grenier Route de Cuxac

Limoux  Bourse aux jouets

Ornaisons  Bourse aux jouets et créations artisanales

Saverdun  Vide grenier, marché aux puces et bourse aux livres

Dimanche 11 Décembre

Alet-les-Bains  Marché médiéval, Bourse aux jouets

Azille  Vide grenier

Bizanet  Bourse aux jouets

Camplong-d’Aude  Bourse aux jouets

Carcassonne  Vide grenier brocante

Coursan  Vide grenier Route de Cuxac

La Digne-d’Amont  Bourse aux jouets, vêtements

Villemoustaussou  Bourse aux jouets, vêtements

Gajan  Vide grenier avec marché de Noël

Pamiers  Vide grenier brocante

Saint-Girons  Vide grenier

Saint-Paul-de-Jarrat  Vide grenier Judo Club

Varilhes  Vide grenier brocante su la D624


Christmas Fairs & Markets

Samedi 26 Novembre

Carlipa  Marché de Noël

Villedubert  Marché de Noël artisanal et gourmand

Mazeres  Marché de Noël des createur

Varilhes  Marché de Noël 2016

Dimanche 27 Novembre

Alaigne  Marché de Noël

Argeliers  Marché de Noël

Capendu  8éme Marché de Noël

Fleury d’Aude  Marché de Noël

Palaja  Marché de Noël

Pennautier  Marché de Noël

Sigean  Marché de Noël

Tourreilles  Marché de Noël

Villedubert  Marché de Noël artisanal et gourmand

Villeneuve-Minervois  Marché de Noël

Vinassan  Marché de Noël

Varilhes  Marché de Noël 2016

Vendredi 2 Décembre

Fontiers-Cabardès  Marché de Noël de l’école

Samedi 3 Décembre

Camplong-d’Aude  Marché de Noël

Lagrasse  Marché de Noël

Luc-sur-Aude Marché 100 pour 100 artisans de Noël

Les Pujols  Marché de Noël

Montgailhard  Marché de Noël

Dimanche 4 Décembre

Bagnoles  Marché de Noël

Barbaira  Marché de Noël et de producteurs

Canet  Marché de Noël

Carcassonne  Marché de Noël au Cap Cinéma à Carcassonne

Cournanel  Marché de Noël

Durban-Corbières  Marché de Noël de la MJC Marceau Malet

Espéraza  Marché de Noël C.A.R.I.E.

Fabrezan  Marché de Noël

Lagrasse  Marché de Noël

Portel-des-Corbières  Marché de Noël

Puginier  Marché de Noël

Rustiques  Petit Marché de Noël

Saint-Denis  Marché de Noël





Mercredi  7 Décembre

Caux-et-Sauzens  Marché de Noël de l’Ecole Michel Maurette

Jeudi 8 Décembre

Caux-et- Sauzens  Marché de Noël de l’Ecole Michel Maurette

Vendredi 9 Décembre

Monze  Marché de Noël des écoles

Samedi 10 Décembre

Cépie  Marché de Noël

Cubières-sur-Cinoble  Marché de Noël Cubiérol

Lezignan-Corbières  Marché de Noël, Château Grand Moulin

Pamiers  Marché de Noël

Saint-Girons  Mercat de Nadau dera Calandreta

Verniolle  Marché de Noël

Dimanche 11 Décembre

Alet-les-Bains  Noël médiéval à Alet-les-Bains (Foire de Noël)

Armissan  Marché Artisanal et Gourmand de Noël

Brugairolles  Marché de Noël

Caux-et-Sauzens  Marché de Noël et de créateurs

Cépie  Marché de Noël

Conques-sur-Orbiel  Marché de Noël

Gruissan  Marché de Noël – Les Nadalets

La Digne-d’Amont  Marché de Noël

Lauraguel  Marché de Noël

Le Somail  Marché de Noël

Lézignan-Corbières  Marché de Noël  Château Grand Moulin

Montréal  Marché de Noël des Créateurs

Ouveillan  Marché de Noël de l’artisanat et des produits regionaux

Payra-sur-l’Hers  Marché de Noël

Léran  Marché de Noël artisanaux et gourmand

Lézat-sur-Lèze  Marché de Noël

Mirepoix  Marché de Noël

Pamiers  Marché de Noël

Saint-Girons  Mercat de Nadau dera Calandreta

Saint-Jean-du-Falga  Marché de Noël

Saurat  Marché de Noël

Vernjoul  Marché de Noël gourmand et créatif

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What's On 


CIRQUE DU SOLEIL 22 to 26 Nov Zenith Toulouse


TEENAGE FANCLUB 20 FeB Le Letronum Toulouse


SUICIDAL TENDENCIES 11 April Bikini Toulouse

SIMPLE MINDS 29 April Halle Aux Grains Toulouse



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