Category Archives: Annecy

French Capital Gains Tax

Just like in the UK, if you sell property in France for more than you paid for it there is tax to pay. If the property is your main home then there is a 100% exemption (so you’ll have no French Capital Gains Tax to pay). If the property is a second home then things get more complicated.

I’ve been collecting some articles on the subject from the web. A good place to start would be the French Notaires website.

https://www.notaires.fr/en/capital-gains-tax-property-0

More from the French government here. Dealing with the specific case of what happens when there is a delay in selling what was a principal residence.

http://droit-finances.commentcamarche.net/faq/2342-delai-de-revente-de-la-residence-principale

also

https://www.frenchentree.com/french-property/french-tax/capital-gains-on-a-property-sale/

and some Brexit related comment here

https://www.frenchentree.com/brexit/what-happens-to-capital-gains-tax-after-brexit/

Buying off-plan in the Alps

Buying an off-plan apartment or chalet can have many benefits. When I started out in this job (15 years ago) I thought that buying into a development should cost less than buying something you could see. I was focusing on the risk and the waiting time.

I was wrong though. Buying a brand new property generally comes at a slight premium. Compare it to buying a new car. You can specify everything to be just how you want it from the outset, you might have to wait a few months for delivery but then you’ll be the first to use it.

new build property in St Gervais
Appt. clos du Savoy in St Gervais, see link below for more info.

I’ve listed the advantages here:

  • Payment is in stages, staggered over the build.
  • There are lower notaries fees and stamp duty (2.5% vs about 8% on anything but off-plan properties)
  • The latest buildings are much cheaper to run thanks to the eco-legislation in place in France.
  • You can normally adjust the specifications to your taste.
  • There are often options to buy extra parking and garages.
  • The VEFA legislation in France makes this one of the safest property purchases you can make.

Against

  • There will be a wait of at least a year, sometimes 2.
  • You can’t judge the quality of the finished product. Always ask to see a development built by the same developer to reassure yourself.
Off plan apartment near Annecy
Appt. La Bastide on the side of Lac Annecy, more info on the link below

VEFA (Vente en l’état futur d’achèvement)

This is the contract that lays out what the development will provide, the specifications, dimensions, tolerances of the build, delivery dates, when you will pay, under what circumstances you can withdraw. It is very detailed (and will be in French), there is a clear explanation of the document here.

http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/F2963.xhtml

I’ve written in the past on the more general subject of how to buy a property in the Alps.

http://blog.alpine-property.com/2014/03/31/how-to-buy-your-alpine-property/

Getting a mortgage for an off-plan property is fine too. In fact in provides yet another safeguard. The mortgage company will want to see that the developer is doing everything by the book. They’ll ask the developer to show that every guarantee and insurance is provided for. The most important is the GFA (Garantie Financière d’Achevement). this is an insurance policy that guarantees the project is completed if the developer finds themselves in financial difficulty and unable to complete the work. Some of the smaller developers might try and avoid some of these. Especially if they are not a legal requirement. So if the mortgage company knocks back an application because they are not happy with the development then you should ask questions as to why.

Finally, assume that the delivery day will be missed. Probably because of “weather” issues. They’ll be a clause that protects the developer in the VEFA that allows for inclement weather. So don’t make any financial commitments based on the delivery date! Like an assumption that you’ll have a rental stream or a holiday booked to stay in the apartment. If you do get you “keys in hand” by the date you expect then it’s time for a celebration!

More details about the Clos du Savoy apartment development in St Gervais here.

https://www.alpine-property.com/saint-gervais-les-bains/appt-clos-du-savoy-group-4/2662

More details about the properties we have for sale by Lac Annecy (including the Bastide development) here:

https://www.alpine-property.com/location/lac-annecy

Traversée du Lac d’Annecy

Traversée du Lac d’Annecy (or Lake Annecy Traverse)

This open water swim is an annual event held on the “quinze août” in Annecy. It’s been going since 1931. The 15th of August is often regarded as the beginning of the end of the summer holidays in France. When it falls on a weekday it is taken as a bank holiday.  This year it fell on a Saturday so we “lost” the holiday!

Full details of the swim, pictures, drone footage and results can be found on the event website. http://www.traverseedulacdannecy.fr/

logotop

About 1500 people took part this year. The numbers were boosted in no small part by 40 who had come down from Bathgate Swimming Club in Scotland. Bravo à tous!

There are three distances you can swim 1000m, 2400m and 5000m. There is also a 500m swim for the under 10’s.  About 1500 people take part over the morning with the 2.4km swim being the most popular. I did the 2.4km last year and fancied having a go at the 5km this year. Thanks to the fact this longer distance is part of the French Cup it is quite competitive.  The first woman to finish was Aurelie Muller (10k open water World Champion) in 1:02:35 and the men’s winner Romain Béraud is current French Champion over 5km, he was only 2 seconds ahead of the current European 25k champion Axel Raymond. To give you an idea how fast that is. Their average pace for 100m is 1’10”. That would be 16 seconds per 25m in your local pool. If you can swim that fast over 25 m (starting from in the water!), just imagine trying to keep it up for 5km!

There is quite a lengthy video here produced by the organisers after last years event.

And a short  article and video here from France 3, it starts off by featuring the water dogs that are used to help with the rescues. France 3 Alpes

The route is marked on this map (you can click on it to make it larger), the ideal route as a broad red line and my efforts are the thinner line. My swimming is not as erratic as this makes it look. It’s hard for a GPS to keep track of its position when it is spending half the time under water!

annecy swim

The full details on Strava are here.

https://www.strava.com/activities/369459116

It’s always easy to keep an eye on the temperature of Lac Annecy by looking at this website.

http://annecy-meteo.com/temperature-du-lac

There are details of a secret swimming spot on Lake Annecy here. http://wildswim.com/lac-dannecy-roc-du-chere

Which have come from this book on open water swimming in France. http://www.wildswimming.co.uk/wild-swimming-france/

I’ve written a couple of other blog posts on swimming in the Haute Savoie, I have put them here for reference.

http://blog.alpine-property.com/2014/09/05/swimming-in-the-haute-savoie/

http://blog.alpine-property.com/2015/07/10/swimming-across-lac-leman/

Swimming in the Haute Savoie

The French Alps are known for the mountains. Most of our activities involve climbing up and down the Alps, skiing, walking or biking. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the mountains make a beautiful backdrop to the many swimming and watersports opportunities too. During the short summer months the Alpine lakes and numerous outdoor swimming pools come into their own.

swimming in warm water with snow in the background

At the end of the winter I decided to enter the Traversée du Lac d’Annecy, an annual event held on the “Quinze Août” a bank holiday in France. Over 2000 people take part in various swims across the lake with distances of 1km, 2.4km and 5km. As a result this summer has been a summer of water for me. I started my training in May in Thonon les Bains. The “Thonon Plage” could be one of the best swimming pools I’ve ever been too. Even in May they have two heated pools, a 50m pool and a 25m laned training pool. The main pool is surrounded by a glass wall which creates a sun trap. The 25m pool is surrounded by hardwood decking and thanks to the lack of surrounding wall it gives the impression of an infinite pool with just Lac Leman as the backdrop. This picture was taken on a cold windy day. The pool was 28C and I had it to myself for an hour. Not bad for the entry price of 3.20€. In July an open water swim starts and finishes at the plage, the “Rives Ripaille“.

thonon plage

 Just up the road is the swimming pool at Evian, “Evian plage”, again 50m and surrounded by beautifully manicured grass. Once the lake has warmed up there is a secure swimming area in the Lac Leman too. This doesn’t happen until about July at which point the lake temperature is about 21C.  This pool is great for the kids as the (free) slide is enormous and will keep them occupied for hours. Wind direction and temperatures are available from windspots.com.

evian swimming pool

Morzine swimming pool is the most local to me. Oddly I don’t have any photos of it! There is a new (opened in 2012) 25m indoor pool and in July and August the 50m open air pool is open too. The “Club des Nageurs Morzinois” is one of the summer only swimming squads in the area. There are others nearby in Samoens, Evian and La Roche-sur-Foron. These “club estivale” only train outdoors and compete against each other for the 2 summer months. This suits many of the squad as they spend more of their year on skis! Thanks to Morzine’s new-found status as a triathlon training venue you could easily end up swimming next to the likes of  Jodie Stimpson and Alistair Brownlee. Stimpson in particular seems to have spent most of summer 2014 training around and about. Maybe it’s the altitude they like?

paddlle board on lac montiond

© reelfunmedia.com

Or perhaps it’s the Lac de Montriond? A 1km long lake just 5 minutes outside of Morzine. Quiet and thanks to its altitude (1057m) this summer it has been rather cold. Summer 2014 has not been a good summer, we have had no period of sustained heat to warm the higher mountain lakes. I’d be surprised if it made it over 15C. I swam a length in June but even with a wetsuit that was a bit of a trial.

Lac de Passy is well-known to swimmers and triathletes from Chamonix. It has hosted the Mont Blanc Triathlon for several years now. 2014 saw the first edition of the Traversée du Lac de Passy too. The water is clean and thanks to its lower altitude (550m) it often hits 23C in a warm summer.

passy lac

There is a beach, café and some miniature boats for the kids to play in.

lac passy activities

Lake Annecy is world renowned and  has plenty of beaches and access points. The most well-known is the “Plage de l’Imperial” which is surrounded by plenty of parking.  Further along the east side are beaches at Veyrier-du-lac and Menthon too. Thanks to it’s lowly height (445m), shallow sandy bottom and large surface area it’s another warm lake, the temperature of the water can be found on the web, it’s updated every couple of minutes on the annecy-meto site.  Considering it was August. This year’s Lake Annecy swim was pretty cold, even then the water was still 20C so it was better in the water than out!

lake annecy swim

Schooling in France

How English speaking children cope with schooling in France is a frequent discussion amongst the foreigners living here. This shouldn’t be a surprise; schooling is often a hot topic in your home country, so wondering how your children will cope with the alien environment of a French school can be doubly stressful! Choosing which school to send your kids to is not so much of an issue, (in most of the areas we deal with there is just one school to choose from) it’s how your children can get the most from that one school that needs attention.
This is my opinion, it is based on fact (I have three children aged 8, 10 and 12 years), but it should probably not be quoted as gospel. I do seem to have to express it quite frequently though so I thought I’d publish it.
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My kids have had the (massive) advantage of being born in France. In addition to this, and unusually, we took the decision to send them to a French childminder from age 1 until school started. (This facility is heavily subsidised and in our area was organised by the local ‘Relais des Assistantes Maternelles’ or RAM). This meant that my kids pretty much learnt the two languages together. BUT both my wife and I speak only English at home and, although we have both French and UK television we tend to gravitate towards the UK TV 95% of the time.

I’m not saying this to brag, just to give you an idea of how they are doing, they are average in the class for French, in most other subjects they are slightly above average. In the primary schools many English speaking children manage to follow the curriculum without too much difficulty. However if the basics of the language aren’t mastered by the time they start collège (secondary school) at the age of 11 it can become quite an issue. We’ve done some analysis and I think some (more) of the reasons our kids cope quite well are:

* We enrolled them in as many French run clubs and holiday activities etc. as we could. Here the kids are exposed to more ‘conversational’ French than in the school environment.

* My wife is a full-time Mum and speaks good French (mostly self-taught) so can help with their homework.

* We have a tutor who comes to the house once a week to fill in the gaps.

Even with these ‘extras’ the kids just about keep their heads above water on the schooling front. You shouldn’t expect much extra help from the schools either. Some do run remedial lessons for non-French speakers but only for an hour or so per week, and there is normally no classroom assistant to help them on a daily basis. Quite often any difficulties that your child might have will just be put down to the fact that they are not a native French speaker.

In fact I was talking about this yesterday with someone from Samoëns and another from Chamonix. Apparently can get a bit frosty on occasion in the Chamonix schools, they have had to deal with too many non-French speakers and it sounds like they are getting fed up now (this wasn’t reported in Samoëns). Of particular ire was the scene of an English parent picking their kids up from school whilst dressed in ski kit. You can imagine what the teachers think. There isn’t the same hostility where I live in St Jean d’Aulps, but the proportion of English speaking children in the three primary school classes is 25%, 30% and in one class 50%! You can perhaps understand a little why the French can feel put out.

So you’ve got a couple of options to think about. Either “go native” and find somewhere “French”, or to head for somewhere like the Annecy area that caters for the bi-lingual aspect of your childs education.
Go Native
So to try and avoid other English speaking kids at school. We have witnessed many new English speakers starting school who cling on to a small group of Anglophones in the class. It’s not exactly the language “immersion” many parents imagine before coming here. It slows progress significantly. Stay on top of the situation too; it’s hard work but if the first time you discover you child is struggling at school is in their end of term report you may well have a lot of ground to cover to sort the situation out.
With this in mind here are some suggestions for the predominantly French areas in the Haute Savoie.
Le Petit Bornand and Thones in the Aravis: http://www.alpine-property.com/area/5/aravis
Possibly Samoëns but in fact, on this subject, I think you will be better off further down the valley in Taninings or Mieussy.
annecy
The Annecy Options
It could be Annecy’s proximity to Geneva but there are now several options available to relocated families with bilingual kindergarten and primary schools such as Ecole Bilingue de Haute-Savoie in Annecy and  the Mésanges Ecole Bilingue Montessori in Veigy. French secondary schools in the area are also starting to offer specialised classes  for native English speakers and gifted French kids, seeing  the benefits of having native English speakers in the school.

These developments will no doubt help families avoid having to needlessly  move back to the UK for educational reasons when their children can profit from diverse, high quality schooling in situ – and still go skiing!

You can read more about the Lake Annecy area here: http://www.alpine-property.com/area/10/lac-annecy or see a list of the properties we have for sale around the lake here: http://www.alpine-property.com/lacannecy

The bottom line is – schooling cannot be left to chance; which in fact is the same everywhere!