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NewsletterJuly 2012

What Game is This?

Answer below.

Au Revoir 3611

France lost an institution on June 30th with the Minitel shutdown. It was the Internet before the Internet. A network of computer like terminals, using phone lines. The Minitel started in the early 1980's and grew to be used by, at one point, 25 million people.
The most popular function was 3611 - the phone book, but there were many other uses: I frequently reserved train tickets. This being France the Minitel and sex worked well together via 3615 ulla. Some users created chat networks.
As this New York Times article pointed out the Minitel had great success in the countryside where it was often used by farmers, as the Minitel was robust yet simple to use. It was also profitable, users paid by the minute, until losing its users to the Internet.
I think the biggest reasons the Minitel was so popular in the countryside were: it worked over phone lines, the terminal was free and was all in French. Meaning it was a sea of French that loaded quickly unlike an Internet browser. There are still pockets rural France that don't have ADSL and have to rely on dial-up or 3G.
BBC report about the Minitel's farewell.


In this month's podcast I talked with Barron Harper, who lives in Southwest France near Pau. Barron runs an accounting firm specializing in American expats. We spent most of the interview talking about the filing requirements of overseas Americans and in particular the FBAR and FATCA.

Election Results

The elections went as predicted: François Hollande's Socialist Party won an absolute majority in the French Parliament. The first big obstacle is finding 8-10 billion in savings for 2012, needed to cover this year's budget short fall due to minimal growth. Then there's the 2013 budget: requiring another 20-30 billion in savings. So far the only concrete action: raising taxes, but as I write this, the government announced it will start cutting back on spending.
I put together an analysis of the election results.

No Hanging Chads

Here's a quirk of elections in France - no recounts. Once the ballots are counted, they're counted. What can be recounted in France are the spoiled and null votes, ballots with no clear preference for any candidate or damaged ones. What else can be counted are the tabulation sheets, making sure the count is accurate. You can see votes being counted during the first round of the presidential election and a photo of French ballots.
You'll notice that ballots in France are pieces of paper with the candidate's name on them. Once the voter makes his/her choice the ballot is placed in an envelope, that goes inside the ballot box. It's a very simple system.

Photo Answer - Richesse du Monde

Richesse du Monde is a French Monopoly like board game, instead of buying and selling property you buy and sell commodities. It dates back to 1975 but was updated in 2004. Most of the games I've seen are pre-1990's as they have still have the URSS - USSR as a country.
As in Monopoly, the more of a commodity you own, the more you charge when a player lands on that commodity's square. But unlike with Monopoly, commodities randomly change location with every game, as the aren't fixed on the playing board.
The Wikipedia entry I linked to, states that the English version is titled Wealth of Nations. But this video review of a game of that name doesn't look anything like the Richesse du Monde I've played.
More photos of Richesse du Monde.

Mail Box

Easy Daily Life: Assistance to foreigners and concierge services in France.
France Travel Guide: Developed by a dedicated professional travel writer and photographer - Terry Marsh. Along with this site Terry just released an app about France.
Visites Spectacles: Mix of guided tours and theater with actors in period dress in Paris.
Burgundy 4 U: English speaking real estate agent serving Burgundy. Can help you with property search and moving in once you buy your home.
House-Hunting in the Midi: The author and her husband are on a mission to find their dream home, and before finding it they have to run the gauntlet of reluctant real estate agents, odoriferous house owners, rogue dogs and other assorted wildlife, not to mention the ghost of the great canal-builder himself, Pierre Paul Riquet.

La Roche Bluegrass Festival

My town's yearly Bluegrass Festival takes place from August 1-5. You can see and hear highlights from 2011.


Les Rossignols: Is a beautiful old Quercy farmhouse built around 1840, near Assier, in the Lot, Midi-Pyrenees. Close to Figeac, the famous medieval riverside market town, there is much to do and see. Three bed and breakfast rooms are available, from a romantic double room with private roof terrace, to a family room for four/five, all overlooking the large, salt water swimming pool.
The top floor can be rented as a suite of two bedrooms to sleep six/seven, with spa bathroom and sitting room. Close to the wonderful tourist sites of Rocamadour, St. Cirq-Lapopie, the prehistoric caves of Peche Merle, the Dordorgne, Lot and Célé river valleys there is plenty to do. Walk, explore or watch the wonderful birds and wild life, which ever way you can be sure of a fabulous holiday and warm welcome.

Global Insurance Net: If you are thinking about moving to France you will need health insurance to get your visa. A great company that will help you with this is Global Insurance Net. I found out about Global Insurance Net in 2003 through another expat and have been recommending them ever since with no regrets. Carlos Perez the President, CEO of Global Insurance Net has always been very easy to work with.
In short expatriates looking for insurance should start with Global Insurance Net.

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