Taxing issue of ‘Depart’-dieu

So actor Gerard Depardieu has turned his back on France, refusing to pay Hollande’s crippling wealth taxes.

I’m no fan of Hollande’s tax regime changes, but crikey, we can’t just let the rich not pay anything while the rest of society crawls along paying up and sacrificing what little luxury they do have.

You have to question whether the country will really miss an actor who has a history of embarrassing bahaviour in public places? Remember those suspicious accidents of the ‘urinary’ type on aircraft, crashes his moped on the streets of Paris whilst allegedly under the influence, and who has now thrown his French passport into the gutter, where, incidentally, the French economy is also currently languishing?

We think not. After all, there are many other actors who can and will replace Mr D. No-one is indespensible, and while I sympathise with him having to pay more tax to help France out of its current malaise, it is the behaviour of the rich that has kind of landed them in this mess in the first place.

So Belgium it is for Depardieu, who will surely have no problem in his efforts to obtain a Green Card!

Fifty ‘Sade’s’ of grey

Brits v French – whose the sexiest?

You have to hand it to the French, when it comes to sex, love and erotica. They’re none too impressed with EL James’ torrid tale and have dubbed it boring in comparison to hot French classics from the likes of the Marquis de Sade.

A piece in the Guardian reports that French magazine Les Inrocks has dubbed it ‘”sadomasochism, light and flavourless”, full of “insignificant, consensual and cliched” content’. Read the full article here.

The Guardian article talks about the old British-French rivalries as being at the root of the mauling, despite the fact the book has sold millions and become an international bestseller.

But what do you think? Do you find the French much more sexy and romantic in the love department than the Brits? Or is it just a bit of penis envy? After all, another recent Daily Mail article (click here) highlighted a study that showed British men to be rather more well-endowed than their French rivals.

We’d love to know what you think the naked truth is.

France cuts growth forecast

Just weeks after being installed as the country’s new leader, French President, Francois Hollande has cut the nation’s growth outlook, with a slew of budget cuts set to follow.

After what Reuters described as a ‘grim assessment’ of public finances by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French economy is now forecast to grow by 0.3% in 2012, compared with the 0.7% forecast earlier.

Typically, the new socialist government blamed the move on an over-estimated growth forecast by the previous conservative government under Nicolas Sarkozy.

And now an amended 2012 budget is due to be presented to the Cabinet apparently without seeking to cut spending or resorting to widespread austerity.

Well, good luck with that.

Time to ‘chillax’

Chilling on the terrace

Sometimes you just have to stop and remember why it was you bought a place in the sun to begin with. It’s easy to forget the tranquility in all the rushing around fixing things up.

Every time I arrive at my place, I have a list of things I need to get through to get the place up to scratch again – clean floors, fill fridge, cut grass and weed, weed, weed.

So, after a couple of days hard labour getting the house and gardens back to as normal as state as I could manage, I decided it was time to just down tools, kick back and stretch out in the sun. In short I decided to sunbathe, that ancient ritual of lying on a beach towel for the sole purpose of getting an all over tan.

It was fantastic, as it brought back all the reasons I originally bought the place but had forgotten in the intervening years. Shamefully, it’s the first time I’ve used the terrace for sunbathing, but, having experienced it once, it is definitely going to be the place to head to from now on.

Can’t believe it’s been there for three years and I’ve only start properly sunning on it now. I’ve promised myself that I need to make more effort to relax at the house instead of running around all the time.

Happily, I think it’s something I can really get into and I think you should try it too.

Wheeler at Waterstone’s

Top billing

It’s a warm and sunny evening in London and the Kensington High Street branch of Waterstone’s was the place to be for the signing of author Karen Wheeler’s latest installment of her life in France, Tout Soul.

As fans of Karen will now be aware, such events are marked by her insistence on standing everyone who comes along a deliciously ice cold coupe de Champagne – and make that quality bubbles too, Karen just doesn’t do cheap.

Karen Wheeler chats to fans at the signing of Tout Soul.

It was a great evening, made more enjoyable by the fact I finally got to meet some of her fans, who come from all walks of life, and who I reckon are as interesting as any of the characters in her books. Many came from quite far. I was very pleased to meet a distinguished chap, originally from Montreal, but who now lives in Berkshire, who also happens to enjoy a bit of PoitouTV now and then. I think he definitely has a book or two in him.

It was also a pleasure to meet a lovely Californian woman, who has also made the UK her home, and who told me she wants to take her daughters to France to expose them to the wonderful subtleties of another European culture. One of Karen’s keenest fans was a delightful lady who made the journey to Waterstone’s despite still brandishing the bruises of a serious fall down some stairs. Dedication indeed.

I was really proud that Karen’s books seem to be inspiring people from all walks of life in so many different ways. I don’t think there can be a better reward for a writer really. But of course the pressure’s now on for KW – as fans left, I could hear them promising each other: “‘See you next year at the launch of ‘Tout 4′”!

It’s l’economie, stupid!

With just hours to go before the French election gets underway, it’s all about the economy – of course.

Nicolas Sarkozy says he’s the man who’s steered Europe through the worst of it, while main rival Francois Hollande insists the dire state of the French economy is all Sarkozy’s fault.

It’s no secret that round the rural parts of France – where most Brits tend to buy their ‘dream’ maisons secondaire, Msr Sarkozy is not a popular man. But however France votes, it is now clear the economic future of the nation will be uppermost in peoples’ minds when they mark their ballot papers.

So will it be a case of better the devil you know, or let’s give someone else a chance to sort out ‘le mess’?

Typically, and agonisingly, the elections start Sunday, but won’t finish until the run-offs two weeks later!

What do you think? Should Brit expats be allowed to vote in the main event? We’d love to know all your views…

Strange ‘Descoings’ on

Dangerous liaisons in New York?

France was shocked last week to learn of the untimely death of top political scientist, Richard Descoings.

The naked body of the director of the Institute of Political Sciences, or ‘Sciences Po’ was found in a New York hotel room, and strange circumstances surround the death.

Interestingly, if you read the French press, you get only very brief details of the case, with no hint of what my lie behind the bizarre demise of Msr Descoings. However, the British press have revealed far more detail of what may have gone on in the hotel.

For example, although married, Msr Descoings was ‘really into men’, the Daily Mail quotes his wife as saying. The UK paper reports he had been ‘trawling through gay hookup sites’ and that two men joined him in his room.

It’s shaping up to be quite a salacious story, moreso given we’re in the run up to the French elections and the fact Descoings had previously commented there may be a plot to ‘out’ him and discredit his reputation as a change activist in the system for creating the nation’s political elite.

What PoitouTV can’t ignore is that, lately, sinister events in French politics appear to favour as their location the luxury hotel rooms of New York – anyone remember Dominic Strauss-Kahn?