All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

How French.....

The cooker hood is to be installed before I leave.

It should have been installed much earlier in proceedings but we bought  it when last in San Jose ....and The Men forgot to bring it back here.

We collected it today after a shopping trip for taps (didn't have the model we wanted);
bread (had to go to three bakeries to get enough to last The Men in sandwiches while I am away)
and wine (swept the decks clear of a super Argentinian Torrontes at the Chinese end of line shop).

After lunch, the box was opened and tradition flouted by deciding to read the instructions.
The box was labelled in English, Spanish and French....thus between them there shouldn't have been a problem, so I was unprepared for the despairing howl of

It's all in sodding French!

By the time I reached the kitchen the other sections, Spanish and English, had been found and the tension was subsiding, only to mount again as they made the discovery that the unit was designed to fit into an over-the-hob unit.
Which had not been in our plans.

This not being the ideal moment to remind them that I had wanted a different model I retired to the balcony...the French instructions in hand.

They were in line with most instructions...
Do not put the plastic bag over your head while inhaling;
Use an electrical line tester rather than stuff your fingers into the hole where the switch had been;
But had an additional element.

No spare parts would be available for the units...well, you ask yourself, when are they ever! Blame accountants and just in time stock management.
Not for that reason, ma petite dame.
No spare parts would be available is, according to the French instructions, too dangerous for a non professional to fit them!

The underlying message being that what you need in your cooker hood's hour of trial is.....roll of drums......
The Artisan Francais!

I have referred to the brute before, the glaring presence of his work....visible pipes...white plastic strips covering his cables...for when, not if, there is a problem; his will  of the wisp tendencies where attention to your job is concerned; his total lack of flexibility...if  he is mixing cement he will continue to do so until ten minutes before lunch and chip out the wasted materials two hours later, depositing it neatly out of sight under a shrub.

I would rather stick my fingers into the hole where the switch had been while placing a plastic bag over my head and inhaling deeply than employ the artisan francais ever again.

An attempt to book a coach ticket had not left me too well disposed to France either.
The ins and outs of a bull's arse having been typed into the spaces provided, the site proceeded to payment.
Only it didn't. It produced a page telling me that my French bank....for my own security...wanted me to ring a French mobile telephone number. From Costa Rica.

Ah yes, I remember it well.
When they tell you something is for your own security it will either foul you up completely or, as in the case of the roadsigns telling you that...for your security...the road is under the surveillance of the gendarmerie, cost you money.

And then I read an article Guy had sent over on the plight of the artisan francais.

No, he has not been outsourced to India - they have enough troubles of their own
Nor has he been other artisan francais will take an axe to him.

He is suffering from a bad case of the coefficients.

Coefficients are the curse of France.
Their use in practice means that some clown will pull a number out of a kepi, multiply it by his mother in law's life expectancy and decide that the result is the amount of tax you have to pay.

And this is what has happened to the artisan francais.

He used to pay the taxe I did on our letting houses...the product of that tax went to the commune.
Then Sarkozy abolished it...only to replace  it with eight different taxes, none of which went to the commune. They went to the conglomerate of communes which was supposed to apply economies of scale to local administration.
Of course, nothing of the sort has happened. Each commune has someone someone looking to roads and pathways...and the conglomerate has its own team doing likewise....French local government operating, as it does, on the principle of 'let not poor Nelly (or Francine) starve'.
No chance while there are taxes to feed her.

One of the new taxes is called the CFE....Cotisation Fonciere des Entreprises... and it is based on the rental value of the premises used by the artisan in pursuit of his business affairs.
Deft work with the kepi and calculator reckoned that, in our area, the base of imposition should be put at about 8%...multipled by the next number they just thought of...23.22%.

Then, so as not to exempt those who worked from a hutch in their garden, they imposed a minimum figure of 1,500 euros as a base on which to apply the 23.22 %
The lack of serious grumbles encouraged them to pick from the kepi again the next year.....and raise the base to 5,000 Euros.

The resulting furore on the receipt of tax demands forced the conglomerate to call a public meeting, where the president got off on the wrong foot by declaring that the packed hall showed the extent of interest in the subject ...growls from the floor....and that his staff's simulations showed no effect on the small business sector
He impressed even less when declaring that his staff thought that upping the minimum would only affect big businesses.
Even coefficients can't account for that hallucinatory judgement.

And what could he offer as a palliative?
He would ask the tax office not to apply penalties for late payment....

It was a noisy meeting.....unprintable language was employed....but no conclusions were reached.

I am just glad that I don't want any work done by a local artisan francais in the foreseeable future.
Those who survive this blow will be busy with the calculator, if not the kepi, sharing the burden of the new coefficients with their customers.


  1. I had to laugh when I read "It's all in sodding French." Being in Quebec this phrase is so familiar to me. :) Great post, as always.

  2. Now is probably not the time to mention it, but we are exempted from paying the CFE for 5 years -- due to living in a deprived rural area. It will undoubtedly be a hideous shock the year we have to pay it, along with the prelevements sociaux and the taxe d'habitation, all due on the same date.

    1. Is it a total exemption...or do they start charging you in year six for the results of year one, which is what used to happen with the TP?

  3. Thanks for the warning. I'll continue to stay right away from French artisans!

    I hope the men got the hood up eventually!

    1. With a new build you shouldn't need their services!
      They've turnd their attentions to the oven and its housing....I thnk they're hoping I'll go away and leave them to attack the hood in peace....

  4. Well the French craftsmen/skilled workers sound much like the Turkish ones. But at least they don't appear to have all this mind-boggling tax stuff to deal with.

    Oh I just love the instructions that come with things. Especially those that have been translated into English from another language like Chinese for example.

    1. I remember Chinese instructions translated into English years back...they were mind if the translator had been reading James Joyce...

  5. This post would be funny, except that it's all true!

  6. Well, I for one hope you don't stick your "fingers into the hole where the switch had been while placing a plastic bag over" your head, but I can understand the temptation. ;) Good luck to you!

    1. Before I found the Turkish builders the temptation was almost permanent...!

      The man who was supposed to install a velux, who put in two bits of glass he had about his person instead....constant leaks...many failed attempts to repair before eventually giving in and installing the velux I had paid for...and then gave me a further bill for his time spent on the leaks.
      He was quite hurt that I did not pay it.

  7. Small rant coming: this is the real nanny state, not welfare benefits or health care but when things aren't available/are forbidden because the state/a company decides you need protection from yourself. But if protecting us from ourselves really were an issue, few people would be granted driving licenses, for example.

    On anothe note, my first experience of post-US litigation instructions was my first digital camera. A merry hour I spent reading about how I shouldn't push my thumb through the viewing screen nor submerge the camera in the bath with me while turned on (the camera, not me), and that if it burst into flames, I should remove it from my person.

    1. No, as you say, it's protecting a vested interest, not saving us from ourselves...

      The camera in the bath part of the instructions makes you wonder about the mentality and habits of those writing the instructions...

  8. See, everything went to pot as soon as we discovered fire...

  9. As late as that....I thought it was apples...

  10. just stopping by to wish you a happy thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you!
      It is also Mr. Fly's birthday so, surprise surprise, the oven has been installed in the kitchen....

  11. Replies
    1. Thank you...from both of us!
      The oven was used to roast a beef joint which, thank goodness, was succulent...still have grass fed beef here.

      And now for the packing....

  12. I just hope that your home is still standing when you return from your trip to France.

    1. Just as I was relieved to see the French house still standing on arrival.....I always wonder whether a motorway route will have been scheduled....

  13. Here in Wales we have what is known as the Pembrokeshire Promise - no doubt you get the idea.

  14. All I can say is thank goodness our French renovation is finished - all but the bits we can do ourselves. No wonder The Economist is busy calling France the time-bomb at the heart of Europe:

    1. And now the council concerned as saying that they will repay the money...even though it is illegal....

  15. This has made me more thankful for being in America. (LOL?)