Archive for April, 2011

29th April
written by bob

So…in the almost 2 months we have lived here now, we have come to notice some obvious differences between France & the US.  In random order here is our compiled list…

  1. Dogs crap on sidewalks and the owner does NOT clean it up – EVER! This is someone’s actual job. (I have yet to see an owner clean up after their dog – see the Google Street View pic below)
  2. Cashiers do not have to / will not lift anything over 8kg (ie. not required to lift; it’s in their job description).
  3. 35 hrs work weeks; anything more is considered overtime and tacked on as vacation time at the end of the month.
  4. Kids do NOT go to school on Wednesday and therefore mother’s don’t go to work on Wednesday.
  5. Every 6 weeks school is out for 2 weeks and, yet, they still have 2 months off for summer holidays.
  6. Most businesses are not open past 8pm. (nothing is 24-hr)
  7. If a business is open on Saturday, it will usually be closed on Sunday & Monday.
  8. Lunch breaks are 2 HOURS in duration.
  9. At lunch, drinking is socially acceptable (& encouraged).  (ummm, fill ‘er up tarbendar! *hic*)
  10. Great wines are very cheap! (We love our Bordeaux!)
  11. Resumes contain a picture, marital status, birth date, and sex. In fact, these are required.
  12. People walk everywhere and don’t think twice about it.
  13. Obesity is not a problem here. (probably due to point #13)
  14. This is "right" outside of our place on Google Street View. How nice?!

  15. Every town has a farmer’s market at least once per week.
  16. The Antibes’ farmer’s market is open 6 days a week.
  17. Dogs and children are allowed everywhere (ie. dogs in restaurants).
  18. Dogs are very often not on leashes. (this makes us leery when G is walking around – esp with a pitbull breed)
  19. All cars have to go through a government-regulated inspection prior to selling it to someone.
  20. Hookers are Russian and manual laborers are North African. (hey, it’s just an observation…)
  21. While there are clearly designated parking spots, it’s perfectly acceptable to park your scooter, motorcycle, & car on the sidewalk or wherever, for that fact.
  22. Everyday you can buy fresh seafood on ice from a guy with a cart.
  23. France produces and consumes more bottled water than any other country in the world. (1.5L costs €0.21…that explains it)
  24. Eating peanut butter is unfathomable. (you’re lucky to find it on the grocer’s shelves)
  25. Everyone will buy a french bagette and walk around eating it plain.  (And, it’s REALLY good!)
  26. For the most part, the concept of “customer service” does NOT exist at all.  (see our previous post for a firsthand experience!)
  27. The only appropriate greetings are “Bon jour” and “Bon Soir”.
  28. There is no Tylenol here. (seems weird)
  29. When illegal aliens try to enter the country, France shuts its border to trains coming in!  (check the news last week about immigrants attempting to enter)

And…BEST of all…

In general, “political correctness” has not engrained itself into French society. ( <- personally I LOVE this one!)


Au revoir, mes amis!

28th April
written by bob

We arrived in Nice, France on 03MAR. Over the past six weeks, we have seen, walked to, & visited some really neat places here in Antibes and the area surrounding as well; Nice, Sophia, Valbonne, & Cannes. You get the picture. All-in-all our experience here thus far has been incredible! The French culture is very different than what we find in the US; and obviously, there’s the good along with the not-so-good.

So…we were supposed to move into our apartment on 31MAR that we have been paying rent on since 15FEB. Well…we have moved twice since 31MAR but not to our apartment, at least not yet. You see…we did a lot of research on France prior to coming here to help figure out what to expect and what things were going to be like. We researched French laws – auto, housing, etc and discovered a lot of things that were different than the US. On that same note, thankfully we DID do our research prior to coming. Let us tell you why.

We didn’t have any trouble renting an apartment although finding one that 1) we liked, 2) was big enough for our things, and 3) a decent location was the challenge there. We found a great place; built in the early 1900’s – a classic French place – right near Center Ville in Antibes that is about 1500 sq ft (155 m sq). It was prefect…or so we thought. The company that we now work for hired a relocation company to help us find a place as a standard part of the package. Our relocation agent has been EXCEPTIONAL for us, both professionally and personally. The lease was effective 15FEB and a walkthrough was scheduled for the day after we arrived.

Preface: About 15 years ago, France made it a law that an owner had to disclose the lead levels in paint if a place was built prior to 1949. Well, our place qualified for this disclosure. On 08MAR we contacted our relocation specialist and asked where the lead report required by law was in our rental contract, as we did not see it. She contacted the Property Management company, Square Habitat, and asked where the report was. By 15MAR she had yet to receive a confirmation/reply of this email lead inquisition and sent an email quoting the French articles of law that state the requirements for the lead report. Subsequently, we made an appointment to see the Square Habitat agent for 17MAR and she said that she had the report available. Hmmm, really…all of a sudden now you have it but you can’t send it via email?

On 17MAR the PM agent produced a lead report from 2008 and told us that the report was valid for 6 years. The report had been photocopied multiple times so was very difficult to read; also the first page was not included. Our relocation specialist took the report and contacted the audit company directly in order to get a better understanding of what the findings actually meant for us. Upon hearing back from the audit company on 24MAR, our relocation specialist was informed that the reports are only valid for ONE YEAR and the report on our apartment had expired in January 2009. She informed the Square Habitat agent that a new lead report must be done immediately. On 29MAR the audit company returned to do the lead evaluation and completed his inspection by 31MAR.

On 07APR we received a copy of the lead report directly from the audit company that carried out the inspection. Over 30% of the apartment has high concentrations of highly degraded, high concentration lead paint, a “level 3”indication in the report. According to the report, the landlord must, by law, repair the areas of the apartment that are of this level. As of 08APR the Square Habitat agent claimed that she had not yet received the report. As of 11APR, Square Habitat had not yet returned any calls or emails on the matter. Our relocation specialist forwarded her the report to ensure that she indeed had it in hand. As of 13APR we had yet to receive a response from Square Habitat on what they intend to do to repair this issue and when. Our relocation specialist has contacted the agent’s superior to inform Square Habitat that we are going to engage lawyers to solve this problem due to the lack of communication from them. The threat of litigation seemed to have sparked a fire under Square Habitat’s ass as they responded almost immediately. We were told on 19APR that the painter would be finished with the apartment by the end of the week 22APR.

It’s now the evening of the 28APR and we have yet to hear about what the timeline is for repairs to our apartment. We have not heard anything; nada, nothing, zilch! One saving grace is that the lawyer’s of our company are involved and monitoring the situation. We’ll see what happens tomorrow but I can’t say that I would be surprised if this is resolved by the end of May. You heard it here first. Stay tuned…

Au revior!

12th April
written by bob

Well…it has been an incredible year! Nothing this year is the same as it was in 2010. Katherine and I have new jobs, live in a new country, reside in a new house…and best of all…have a new addition to our family, Guilliana, our first child! Miss G is now 1 year old! Wow, can you believe it? A lot has changed and it is all very welcomed.

Guilliana turned one this past week, we still can’t believe that she is already a year old. Boy, time really does fly by. We didn’t really have a big party for G but more a family party; we have only lived here in Antibes for 5 weeks and don’t really know anyone yet. On Friday, we both had to work BUT we were sure to get home early and quickly so we could take G to the Carousel in the Square. She just loves riding that. Every time we walk by it, she gets ALL EXCITED and starts giggling, laughing, kicking, and pointing to it! That’s her new thing; pointing to something that she wants and saying, “daaahh”. Well, at least that is our interpretation of what she’s saying. It’s very cute.

We hopped on the Carousel and rode the horse round and round while having her picture taken. Take a look…isn’t she just the cutest little thing?!?!

Mommy with G for her birthday ride.

Saturday was G-Monkey’s day. We took her to the park down by the beach where she gets to slide, pretend drive, run up & down the ramps, and play with a puzzle…all in the same huge piece of playground equipment. After an hour or so of tearing up the playground, we headed over to the beach so G-Monkey could walk/play down by the water. Funny thing…along the walkway we saw a cute elderly couple sitting on a park bench together where both of them had fallen asleep! Off with the shoes and down to the water went G and Mommy. What a great day to hang at the beach for awhile!

After a quick stop at the Intermarché (market) we headed home for birthday cake. We had a local Patisserie make G a strawberry cake. A French cake; however, isn’t like a traditional cake we think of in the US. G’s cake was more like a glazed, single-layer cake with a custard layer below and fresh half strawberries placed all around the edges. Talk about delicious! Mommy & daddy sang “Happy Birthday” and G dug in! She doesn’t believe in using utensils or hands, G goes straight for the cake with her mouth.

Who needs utensils or even hands?

Following cake and a little dinner, it was time for G-Monkey to head to bed. What a day…G plays hard and just continues to go, go, go until the last minute of the day! Once in bed, G was asleep in minutes.

Au revoir! Enjoy the slideshow & we’ll see you soon!

8th April
written by bob

Last weekend we decided to explore the resort complex where the company has put us up until our things are delivered to our apartment. We are staying at Pierre & Vacances Resort (Antibes). Apparently P&V is a huge chain of properties around the world. Who knew?!?

Old City Antibes

Anyway…from our room we noticed the roof top patio at one of the neighboring buildings and decided to check out the view. G-Monkey decided she was going to accompany us on our view inspection. Much to our surprise, there is a hot tub for each unit with a roof top patio…to ‘help’ enjoy the view. Hey…how come we don’t have one of these units? Umm, excuse me, Front Desk…I believe you put us in the wrong room!

Captain Berkey…I think I see an empty slip/berth with your name on it! Get your boat over here; we’re waiting!

Enjoy the pics all…au revoir!

1st April
written by bob

Just in case you didn’t realize that you could receive our blog posts automatically, well…good news for you, you CAN!

On our homepage, there is an image, to the right of every post. For those who may not know what RSS feeds are here is a quick explanation:

    What is RSS?
    RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, weblogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it.

    Why RSS? Benefits and Reasons for using RSS.
    RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site’s email newsletter.

Using your favorite RSS reader (Outlook, Apple Mail, Google Reader, etc), add “” as a new RSS feed. Then…sit back and start enjoying the automatic feed of all new blogs posts we publish!

See…that was simple, wasn’t it? Guilliana says if she can do it, anyone can.

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