Archive for October, 2007

Off to Paris and Other Things

October 31, 2007

It has been a couple of days since my last post, so I thought I would throw in a few words of what has been happening.

Last weekend was baseball torture, watching our beloved Rockies getting outpitched and outhit at every turn.  I am sure that at least a dozen trees have given their lives in what writing has already passed about the World Series.  Suffice it to say that the Boston Red Sox deserved to be the World Champions, because they played like champions throughout the series.

Watching the dollar’s fall is like watching the Rockies.  The only question, I think, is how low can it go?  Yesterday set a new low against the euro.  I do not think that record will stand for long.  All I can think of is how much a normal lunch in Paris will now cost me.  I suspect I might actually lose a few pounds in Paris.  Call it the Bernanke Diet, if you will.

The good news is that we are off to Paris in the morning, presuming that our wonderful flight to Newark is not delayed or cancelled like it was last trip.  I’m not betting on it though, with a dismal 40% on-time record.  Just crossing my fingers that it will not be really, really late this time.  Paris this time of year is relatively devoid of tourists, and the autumn weather has been holding up nicely for the most part, so Sue and I are really looking forward to the trip.

 That’s it for now.  Gotta run and do some last minute errands before we head out.  Until next post – CIAO!

Bed and Breakfast in Paris

October 26, 2007

While cruising the Web today, I ran across this wonderfully unique site, mentioned in IHT’s Globespotter Paris (another great site by the way) that features the opportunity to stay in your choice of over 30 bed and breakfast rooms in Paris.  If you enjoy this unique way of sharing space with a local family on your travels, I know that you must have shared my frustration at the lack of choices in Paris proper.  Well, it doesn’t have to be that way!  They really do exist.

Madame Monclard has put together a wonderful website called Meeting the French, which includes a directory of local B&B’s.  Her website is www.meetingthefrench.com.  What a website!  Not only is there a section on Bed and Breakfasts, but there are a host of businesses that have opened their doors for a unique glimpse to what it is like to work and live in Paris.  Now, you can spend a day with a local baker, watching him make macarons, or stand side by side with a picture framer perfecting his craft, or even get behind the scenes at the Comédie Française Theatre.  I promise that you will burn up at least a good hour or two perusing all that she has to offer in Paris on her site.

 One of the things that Sue and I enjoy about our long stays in Paris is the chance to get beyond the tourist veneer that is the sole experience of so many, and truly immerse ourselves in the daily life of Paris.  Getting to know the local clothing shop owner or the local propriété of the fromagerie by name makes us feel like part of the neighborhood fabric, if only for a little while. It is when we return to Paris, and can greet our local vendors by name, that we feel somehow integrated into the scene.  Madame Monclard has taken that opportunity to a new level, and I wish her much success.

European Interest in Fractional Ownership

October 26, 2007

The International Herald Tribune ran an interesting article today on the European interest (or lack thereof) in fractional ownership.  The link is:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/10/25/properties/refraction.php

This corresponds roughly to the trend that I am seeing as well.  I am sure that part of this reason is that my marketing efforts for Paris Home Shares are directed to the English speaking world, and most of my enquiries are from The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with a few from Ireland and the United Kingdom. Part of this is due, I am sure, to the familiarity and exposure that many here in the US have had with the concept over the last 20 years.  Secondly, I think that at least in the real estate market, Europeans tend to be more conservative, and are less apt to quickly embrace a new concept.  The mortgage industry in Europe is just now adopting some of the loan products that have been around in North America for decades.  (Of course, the European real estate market isn’t paying the price that we are for some of the crazier lending practices adopted in the US in the last 5-10 years either!).

 Where are we headed in the future?  I am not sure, but I do think that fractional ownership is a concept that just makes good sense for those who would like to have a 2nd home somewhere without the complications of debt service or rental management.

The Rox Get Pulverized in Game 1

October 25, 2007

Ohhh, this was a hard game to watch, especially the first 5 innings.  Final score: 13-1.  Boston leads the Series 1-zip. 

I am the last person to be a baseball pundit, but one can only wonder what happened to the Rockies pitching finesse.  Was it their inexperience, or the 8 day layoff?  That is to take nothing away from the Red Sox performance.  Josh Beckett’s pitching was flawless through 7 innings, illustrating why he is the best pitcher in the Major Leagues this year.  And the Red Sox batting lineup proved formidable throughout the game, pummeling the Rockies pitching for extra base hit after hit.  The only good thing for the Rockies is that the lopsided score allowed some of the back bench players to actually get a chance to play in the World Series.

The good news is that even if the score was 100-1, it’s only Game One!!!  Tonight, we will see if the Rockies settle down and show the talent that brought them to the World Series.  GO ROCKIES!

Update – Jardin Saint-Paul

October 24, 2007

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This post is for those of you who have been following the renovation work at our current fractional development, Jardin Saint-Paul, in the Marais.  I am pleased to report that work continues to move along on schedule, despite the recent strikes in Paris.  There is even a fairly good possibility that Sue and I can stay there on our next trip to Paris, coming up in about a week.  Here is the status report:

1.  All of the marble has been installed in the bathroom and water closet room.

2.  The new hardwood floor installation begins tomorrow, and should be complete by Monday morning.  The flooring is massif Ipé vernis.  I had never heard of Ipé before our trip to Paris, and my understanding is that it is a rich fine grain Brazilian hardwood.  “Vernis” means that it is already prefinished, in this case with 3 coats of polyurethane finish.  “Massif” simply means solid wood, in this case 15mm thick, which equates to about 5/8″ thickness.   Once installed, I believe that the transformation to the apartment will be astounding.

3.  Our new wainscoating has been installed along the entry corridor to provide some character and depth to this long wall.

4.  The final coat of paint has been applied to the bedrooms and hall corridor.  All that awaits is the hardwood floors at this point.

5.  Bathroom cabinets, mirror and marble counter have arrived, and will be installed by Friday.  This will complete the bathroom renovation, provide an entirely new and fresh look, with much more counter space and functionality.

6.  The existing bathroom sink and fixtures have been modified and fitted into the water closet room, adding an additional sink area where none existed.

7.  Boxes of goods continue to arrive daily from France and Denver, with all of the little things we will add to the apartment to make it truly a spectacular pied-a-terre.

I have been promised photos by Saturday by our crew, and I think everyone will be pleased with how things are shaping up.

If you would like to learn more about our project, our about fractional ownership in Paris, visit our website at www.parishomeshares.net and click on the link for “Available Properties”.

Jardin Saint-Paul Owners Meeting

October 21, 2007

JSP Meeting 

    Yesterday, Sue and I hosted the first annual Owners meeting for Jardin Saint-Paul, our fractional ownership apartment in the Marais.  The weather was spectacular; blue skies with bright sunshine all afternoon.  The owners came from both coasts of the US to attend, to meet each other, and to enjoy some fine food and wine together. We decided to hold the meeting outdoors, because it was so nice.

 The first part of our agenda was drawing for the months of use for each Owner, and everyone was eager with anticipation.  It went quite smoothly, and the climax was when I was able to hand out the keys for the apartment to each of the Owners.  Check out these smiling faces!  This is the part of my work that makes it all worthwhile!

getting-keys2.jpggetting-keys1.jpgKeys to Their new Pied-A-Terregetting-keys3.jpg

As part of the meeting, we ratified our budget for the coming year, talked about the neighborhood in which the apartment was located, and shared our common experiences about Paris.  Everyone had a great time, and now we are all planning our next trip to Paris in our very own apartment!

Learning the Language

October 18, 2007

When I was in high school many eons ago, my parents and teachers encouraged me to take Latin as a 2nd language.  I now regret the decision somewhat, even though it did provide an elementary background in the Romance language.  All I can truly remember today is “Veni, vidi, vici” or something like that.  Now, I wish that I had taken Spanish, because it appears to be the 2nd language of America, or at least where I live.

After we started traveling to France, I decided to teach myself French.  Fortunately, the Internet existed, along with a lot of inexpensive language programs that one can run on the computer.  Day after day, I studied, I listened, I read, and I conjugated to myself. After several years of this, I am now proud to say that I am what would be considered an “advanced beginner”.  However, all of this study is nothing compared to the real life experience of speaking in French on a daily basis, particularly to a French person.  I have learned that one’s ears have a learning curve of their own, and that picking up the nuances of the spoken language can only truly be mastered by speaking and listening one on one in real life situations.

It is true that the French truly appreciate any efforts to speak their language while in France.  It is viewed as a sign of respect, no matter how badly we butcher the words.  It is no different if we see a foreigner in the US try to communicate in broken English.  We want to help, and we appreciate their efforts.  The only difference is that many of the French, particularly of the younger generations, are bilingual and speak pretty good English.  But it is not their native language, and they are retiscent about using it because they are embarrassed that their proficiency is less than perfect.

So jump in there, make the effort, and do not worry about how it sounds.  Every “Bonjour”, “Merci, au revoir”, and “s’il vous plait” is truly appreciated.

On our last trip to France, having not had time to study French for almost a year, I suddenly noticed that I was able to understand about 30% of what would be blaring on the radio when we were in a taxi.  For me, that was amazing, because radio announcers sound like they are talking 80 mph. First, I noticed that I was able to pick out words.  If I was lucky, I could even pick out a few phrases that I recognized.  I think that when one hears entire phrases and sentences and grasps the meaning, one is starting to reach a true comprehension of the language.  Of course there are always the nuances and double meanings that, as foreigners, we may never truly master.  But hey!  I just want to be able to communicate ordinary needs and wants, not discuss Plato.

To me, learning a language is fun.  It helps to bridge the gap between different cultures. And I think that is a good thing.

More Bad News About the Greenback

October 17, 2007

Today in Marketwatch:

“The IMF [International Monetary Fund] staff said that the dollar remained overvalued relative to fundamentals. The weakening dollar is seen as a key risk to the global economy, especially if it were to move quickly.”

It looks to be a long bumpy road downhill for the dollar. 

World Series – Here We Come!

October 16, 2007

I normally do not follow baseball all that closely, but one would have to be from another planet not to get caught up in the Rockies fever.  Our town has gone crazy over their home team, the Colorado Rockies.  Perennially an “also ran” team, this year their performance has been absolutely stellar since the All-Star break.  What is not to like?  The team is wholesome, with no big egos dominating the scene, and their comeback makes even the most casual of fans sit up and take notice.

Not only am I rooting for the home team, but, like most, a chance for the David of baseball to slay Goliath.  GO ROCKIES!

Here is a nice recap by ESPN.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=271015127

Video Guided Tours of Paris

October 15, 2007

I ran across this wonderful website today called Geobeats.  It offers virtual video guided tours of many of the famous sites around the world.  Of course, I had to see what it offered in Paris, and I was amazed at the selections available!  Here is the link to the guided tour (in English) of the Place des Vosges, not far from our fractional ownership offering, Jardin Saint-Paul, in the Marais. 

http://www.geobeats.com/videoclips/france/paris/place-des-vosges

 Now you too can be an armchair tourist without leaving the comfort of your home!  I just love this idea!