A lunar calendar to improve my gardening skills

Does the lunar calendar work for planting fruit, vegetables, flowers, for sowing seeds, or for simply gardening? What is the Calendrier Lunaire? Read on.

Exporting a UK-bought LHD car to France

Is it possible or indeed practical to buy a LHD car in the UK, originally registered in Poland, and then import it to France? Are there guidelines to be followed?

Driving in France

In recent years, travelling across to the continent and driving in France has become increasingly easy for Brits, but there are laws and regulations to bear in mind while driving abroad.

Mushroom picking in France

In France, mushroom picking, or “la cueillette des champignons”, is practically a national sport during the Autumn season. However, there are guidelines to follow before wandering through the woods.

Pineau … or Pinot? Do you know the difference?

Pineau is a delicious alcoholic drink which comes from the Charentes region of France. It is a fortified wine made from 3 parts grape juice and 1 part Cognac and, like many great delicacies, was discovered by mistake.

Find out all about Pineau des Charentes

Burglar breaking windowDo expats ever think of protecting their French homes from burglary while away on holiday? We all enjoy going away for a well-earned break and I can’t think of anything worse than coming back to find that your home has been broken into. Living here in France, crime isn’t something we think of very often, especially living in a more rural area, as I do. However, it obviously can happen to anyone, and my bank recently sent me some guidelines on protecting our home while away. I thought I would share those tips as they may prove of invaluable help.

According to the National Observatory of Crime and Criminal Justice Responses, (ONDRP) in 2012, they identified 352,000 burglaries – that’s one every 90 seconds! So, worth taking the necessary precautions before you head off into the sunset.

Doors and windows

Broken window after burglaryObvious really, but doors and windows are the most likely place a burglar will gain access to your house. It’s worth checking to see how secure your doors and windows are – a lot of people who move to France buy older properties because of the character of the place, but this could mean you have old windows and doors that aren’t very secure. It’s a good idea to check that the locks are effective and that the hinges are secure or shielded so they can’t easily be removed to gain access.

Windows also need to be checked for security – do you have window locks? Is the glass toughened safety glass? Glass in modern patio doors and windows will have toughened safety glass as standard, but older properties may not. So, the advice is to have grilles or bars to prevent intrusion…or security shutters.

We all have to have buildings insurance in France, but if the security of your property is not of a good standard, insurance companies could refuse to pay out in the event of a claim.

Evidence that you’re away

Slide to unlockBeyond the usual checking that your house is secure, it’s always a good idea not to advertise the fact that you’re away. Simple things like not putting the dates you’re away on a social networking site, such as Facebook; ask a neighbour or friend to check that the mail in your mailbox is collected; think about your lawns – if you’re away for a couple of weeks or more, it will grow (mine seems to need mowing after just a few days!), so maybe get someone to cut it for you in your absence.

If you’re away for a couple of weeks or more, you can also talk to La Poste (Post Office) as they may be able to keep your post until you get back, or redirect it to another address. Some people also put timers in around their houses so they randomly switch the lights on – anything that suggests someone is around.

Finally, don’t leave messages on doors, or on answering machines saying you’re away and, of course…..no key hidden under a flowerpot! These are all simple, common-sense suggestions for protecting your home in your absence, which could prove invaluable.

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