Archive | March, 2017

Successful Entertaining in France

29 Mar

It is a truism to say that food is important to the French and that business entertaining should be considered a matter of great importance. Business lunches are the most common form of entertaining business contacts with breakfast or evening events being much rarer.

Lunch is usually quite a grand affair and will usually comprise of starter, main course and dessert followed by coffee. Wine will also often be served.

The quality of French food is a matter of great national pride and therefore talking about food is a national obsession. On the whole, you are much better advised talking about the food or other social issues during a business lunch than talking about business. The meal is a time for cementing relationships and learning more about each other. Business matters should only be raised during the coffee.

If inviting French contacts out to lunch, make sure you take them to a good quality restaurant and, unless you are an expert, let them chose the wine.

Restaurants usually include a 15% service charge but it is still customary to leave a small tip as well. Tipping is not compulsory in France but is recommended. (10% would be adequate.)

Ill in France!

28 Mar

After my last business trip to the UK I returned with a cold (I never had a cold before) and this rapidly turned into an upper respiratory tract infection. After a week of getting worse, I went to see the doctor who diagnosed the beginnings of bronchitis. For this he prescribed antibiotics, a cough medicine, cortisone tablets and an asthma inhaler! Four days into the treatment I’m feeling a lot better, thank goodness.

However just as I’m recovering, Trish has come down with sinusitis and is feeling quite rotten. Happily we are able to support each other. So today, I took her English class in the library and had a very entertaining hour working with seven ladies from the village on their English! They also challenged me to translate their exercise into French which I did with some praise, I am pleased to say!

To cheer us up, we went out for a drive on Sunday. We are looking for aquatic plants for the phyto├ępuration project (sewage treatment by reed beds) we are putting in place here. We drove along La Rigole (the channel that feeds mountain water to the Canal du Midi) but it was too fast flowing for plants to grow in. So we went off to the lake of Lampi and whilst plants were spotted, they weren’t of the right type. So we then set off for the source of the river Alzeau (le prise d’Alzeau) but struck out here as well. Never mind, I soon found all the plants we need – on the Internet! We can purchase them online for delivery next week which is definitely more economic than driving hundreds of kilometres around the Aude in the hope of finding some of the seven types of aquatic plants we seek!

However on the way back we saw a bucolic scene – a cow washing her newly-born calf. Cows are one of my favourite animals; so placid and always curious. so here’s some more photos!

Last business visit to the UK

16 Mar

I’m waiting here at Stansted to board the Ryanair flight to Carcassonne and reflecting on the end of my business life. 

After running my own businesses since April 1982 I’ve decided to stop working for my two remaining UK clients. I think that travelling to and from the UK nearly every month for the last four years has taken a bit of a toll on my health. 

On the upside, I’ve managed to hone down my time travelling and on Tuesday night the plane landed at 6:45pm and I was driving my hire car away from Hertz at 7:25pm – a record!


So I won’t be traveling to the UK for business any more. Hooray!

And the greatest thing of all is that I can spend more time with Trish! I really love life here at the Peace Factory and meeting all the volunteers

Wish me luck!

Here are some photos from my trip.