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Archive for December, 2009

Happy Holidays

December 28th, 2009 No comments

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy holiday season. I have not updated the site very often in the past couple weeks due to work and travel. I’m now back in Chicago with family for the holidays but will be returning to France in early January. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/Hanukah and wish you a very Happy New Year. As we start 2010, be on the lookout for more updates, relevant news and also polls asking for your feedback.

best,
Michael

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France property market “still popular” with expats

December 28th, 2009 3 comments

Expat Medical Insurance News: France & Spain ‘still popular’

Property markets in France and Spain will grow in the months ahead, supported by the continued interest from expats and second-home buyers, according to Property Frontiers.

Christopher Chadd, the company’s head of research, said the ease of travelling to and from both countries makes them ideal for those buying a holiday home.

However, he added that expats and other property investors will need to research foreign exchange fluctuations carefully in order to make the most of their money.

“As investors become ever more sophisticated and currency fluctuations more and more volatile, we are seeing a large number of investors looking for advice on currency play,” Mr Chadd said.

His comments followed research from Primelocation earlier this month which revealed that Spain overtook France as the most popular property market in November, ending the latter’s year-long reign as the most searched-for market on the site.

For those who are considering a move abroad, researching expat medical insurance may also pay dividends in the event of an accident or illness while living overseas.

Expatriate Healthcare specialise in providing international health insurance. Make sure you’re protected.ADNFCR-1788-ID-19529663-ADNFCR

New updates to the site

December 14th, 2009 No comments

Hello everyone, Bonjour à tous,

Thanks for reading and contributing your comments. I will soon be adding a poll to get your opinions about what you would like to see on the site.

In order to help expats in more diverse ways, I have recently added 2 new pages (accessible above in menu):
Shopping, Fashion and Size Conversions
Retail, home, car, groceries

These both list helpful links to stores, shops and resources in these subject areas. Most of the sites are in French. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know.

I’ve also updated links on a couple other pages, including Top Expat links for France and French News, French Language Links. On the latter page, I’d like to highlight a link in particular that allows you to search (in French, English, German, Dutch, Italian and Spanish) for French magazines and publications and where to buy them in your city:
Find a French newspaper, magazine

This is a fantastic resource, letting you know which “tabacs” in the neighborhood, for example, sell the magazine you would like.

Other new links include:
France for Families (especially for family travel)
Expats Moving and Relocation Guide (does not include France specifically, but has helpful information)
LegiFrance (Official French law site…in French only)

I will continue to update the website when I find new interesting links.

cheers,
Michael

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Exclusive: U.S. Ambassador to France answers my questions

December 9th, 2009 2 comments

As a contributing writer for Scoop Daily, this article will be appearing on their website in the coming week. But you can read it first here. The Honorable U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco, Charles H. Rivkin was gracious and answered my questions. This is a longer post than usual, but it is also an EXCEPTIONAL post. Thank you, Ambassador. You can get updates on the Embassy at their website or on their Facebook group.

What is your connection to France and the French language, and what about diplomacy interests you?

My family has deep connections to France. My father participated in General Patton’s French campaign during World War II for which he was decorated by the French government. My parents sent me to study at the Franco-American Institute in Rennes. I later interned at Renault. I also went to Cannes every year while managing a media firm.

I have been exposed to diplomacy from an early age, while my father was Ambassador to Luxembourg and to Senegal. Every year, in his name, my family and I award a prize to an American diplomat for the best example of constructive dissent that advances American diplomacy.

What do you think of the French-US relationship today, and how do you think Presidents Obama and Sarkozy can work together on different issues from economic recovery to NATO efforts in Afghanistan?

The U.S.-French relationship today is outstanding, with cooperation on all levels. France is one of our oldest allies. Exchanges on all levels – cultural, commercial, and political – are extremely important. We do $1.2 billion in trade, investment, and affiliate sales revenues a day between the two countries. Moreover, President Obama regards France as a key ally in almost all the major issues that he is managing today. The fact that he visited France two times in his first five months as President provides the proof. France is either leading or a close partner on the issues of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, the Middle East Peace Process, climate change, and the financial crisis. The two Presidents speak to each other regularly by telephone, and are both men of action who work well together.

In your role as Ambassador to France, how involved will you be with the different institutions of the European Union? What role do they play in the work of a US Ambassador to a European country?

We have a Mission to the European Union based in Brussels that leads in the relationship between the United States and the European Commission. Nonetheless, we approach Member States on European Union issues that are being considered in national capitals, which is appropriate since the Embassy manages bilateral relations. France does tend to punch above its weight in the European Union.

What city do you enjoy the most in France, and are there any areas you would like to explore in particular?

France is a wonderful country, geographically diverse, boasting a large variety of regional cuisines and wines, and possessing a rich history. It is hard to choose one city above another, although I do have a certain affection for Rennes since I spent part of my youth there.

Many Americans do not speak a foreign language. How do you think this could be changed, and is the US Embassy in Paris involved in any language programs?

One of President Obama’s priorities is to improve the language abilities of public school students so that future leaders of America have a more international vision. The U.S. Embassy, our Consulates, and American Presence Posts play a role in this mission by actively sponsoring exchange programs, Fulbright Scholarships, and Sister City relationships that bring Americans to France and French to the United States.

How do you think the French view President Obama, and vice versa for Americans’ opinion of President Sarkozy?

According to the opinion polls, 80 percent of French support President Obama, and 77 percent of French now have favorable opinions of the United States. Similarly, most Americans have a very positive opinion of President Sarkozy, whose addresses in the United States have been warmly welcomed.

Does the US Embassy keep up regular contact with all of the major French political parties?

Yes, this is our practice worldwide.

What do you like most about France?

The people! French people are among the most hospitable people I have ever met. French people have strong personalities and opinions, which ensures stimulating conversations and exchanges.

If students are interested in diplomatic careers, what advice would you give them?

My advice would be to learn a language and spend some time abroad to ensure that you would enjoy a career abroad. Studying international affairs is important, but there are terrific careers abroad for economists, health professionals, managers, IT specialists, and professionals of almost every stripe. “Diplomacy” now encompasses almost every profession, specialty or walk of life.

You have had a very successful business career. What advice would you give entrepreneurs in this economy, and what do you think of French efforts to boost entrepreneurship?

Recessions are undoubtedly tough for businesses, but the fact is that businesses that start in recessions, with good ideas, a well-thought business plan, and financing, are much more likely to succeed than those that start in more prosperous times when it may only be possible to make sales as long as the good times last. French and American entrepreneurs are alive and well. Efforts to improve training and make available financing are two very important elements of any effort to boost entrepreneurship.

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France a top popular expat destination for healthcare

December 7th, 2009 No comments

About a month ago, I posted an original article about the French healthcare system and its benefits (as well as its pitfalls). According to the 2009 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey (France pp. 28-29), which focuses on British expats, France comes out #2 for quality of life (#1 is Germany), in large part due to its healthcare system. You can find much more about this survey, country profiles, etc…here.

This article explains a bit more:

“Only 12 per cent of Brits working overseas plan to return home for retirement, a study from Alliance & Leicester has found. According to the group, France is the most popular destination for expats planning to retire, with 18 per cent of those questioned planning to retire over the Channel….For those concerned about securing good quality healthcare during their retirement, France may be a wise choice as the country recently topped the HSBC Expat Experience survey in the healthcare category…”

Fellow expats in France, what have been your experiences in France, specifically relating to healthcare?

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Thanksgiving in France: plenty of turkey and pumpkin pie

December 7th, 2009 No comments

This past Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), many American expats in France were able to enjoy a traditional holiday…myself included. Thanks to the association France Etats-Unis Grenoble (FEU), the local chapter of the national France Etats-Unis, I joined fellow American expats and French residents for a dinner of turkey, stuffing, casserole…pumpkin pie…the works. The food, company and exchanges were great, and it was a little taste of home in France. FEU holds many events for connecting French and Americans. Please see their website for more information.

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American University Clubs of France (AUC) launches Rhone-Alpes Chapter

December 7th, 2009 No comments

On Nov. 24, 2009 at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lyon, American University Clubs of France launched the Rhone-Alpes chapter. AUC is based in Paris, but they plan on expanding activities in the Rhone Alpes region, starting in the Lyon metropolitan area. The turnout was positive and brought together American expats as well as French graduates of American universities. I was able to meet some very interesting individuals, and I have high hopes for AUC in Lyon.

If you would like more information on AUC, go to their website or contact the President here:
Aurelien Cottet
Email : faep@acottet.com

To contribute to a short survey on AUC’s activities in Rhone Alpes, please go here.

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WiFi Hotspots: Which Countries Have The Most?

December 1st, 2009 No comments

The Economist

WiFi hotspots
Well connected
Nov 17th 2009

Which countries have most WiFi hotspots?

WIRELESS internet is spreading extremely fast. Today business travellers have over 286,000 hotspots around the world at their disposal, compared with 53,700 five years ago, according to JiWire, a mobile audience media company. Reflecting its early adoption of WiFi, America has most hotspots, although China is adding networks particularly rapidly. Rich countries with the most tech-friendly cultures (such as South Korea) figure prominently. Measured per person, Sweden and Britain offer the best hotspot penetration rates.

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