Avoid Currency Rip-Off charges

There is a lot of talk online and in the journals this week about the excessive charges made by banks when you change currency. This article in The Independent newspaper sums up some of the problems.

Currency exchanges vary on a day-to-day basis. There are many websites which show these fluctuations in real-time, xe.com for example, or even simple just type in your query into the Google search bar type something like  “1 GBP in euro” – I have found that these queries do not give exactly the same results – two comparisons a few seconds apart using these two services gave me a difference of a quarter of one percent when I tried them.

The exchange rate shown is what is called the “mid-bank” rate – this is something neither you nor I (unless you are a bank) will ever get – the poor old banks have to make a profit moving their (our) money around so they charge a fee (commission) for doing this.

Tourist rates are the prices you will get from banks, high street exchanges and cash machines. It this moment the mid-bank rate is showing at 1.14 euro to the pound (to 2 decimal places everywhere) the typical tourist rate is 1.11 euro to the pound – so the commission charge is about two and a half percent

The best deal I have found shifting lumps of money through currency dealers is what they call “30 points off” mid-bank rate – in other words they charge about one third of one percent, but this is for buying a house or transferring a largish sum of money.

So the best tourist rates for going on vacation and wanting 1000 euro is going to cost a minimum of 25 euro – but be careful, ATM machines often charge an extra three percent and there are many other charges not shown clearly by currency exchange services.

This soon mounts up and even with the nicest bank people you are in effect buying them a very expensive dinner, with Champagne, for the simple job of moving your money from one place to another.

If you are coming to stay with us in Villa Roquette, we can help you save money. You can transfer your booking payment directly into a bank account we specify, either in the UK or USA, paying us in pounds or dollars, we will calculate the money (all our prices are in euro) owing at the actual real mid-bank rate at the time and not make any charges at all, you get the full listed exchange rate.

Add this saving to our plane or train shuttle service saving you up to 200 euro in taxi fares and your saving on baggage as we provide beach towels and many extras as standard and you could save enough to stay an extra couple of days.

I was thinking of ways of helping further,  for example, you could transfer your spending money and we would repay you in euro when you arrive, we then only need charge the much smaller currency exchange rate when we transfered several clients payments across by a large sum transfer. But when I spoke to Carole about this idea it made us sound like a Nigerian scam, so perhaps I will keep this for a future project.

Villa Roquette Guest Hose in Languedoc France

Private Pool at Villa Roquette

Gun Ownership & Shooting in France

Gun Ownership & Shooting in France

‘To a Brit, gun ownership seemed as unlikely as walking on the moon’

When best-selling author Alan Pearce moved to France and wanted to join a gun club he found the process so complicated he almost gave up.

‘My French was really poor and I had no one to hold my hand and steer me through the seemingly complicated process,’ he says.

But one year on and Pearce has a gun collection that includes a Colt 1911 and an M4 assault-rifle. He has now written a straight-forward guide – Gun Ownership & Shooting in France – which he hopes will help other expats take up one of the most popular sports across the Channel.

‘Actually, the process of gun ownership here is remarkably easy; I just needed some patience and help filling in the forms,’ he says.

‘In all, it took me less than a year to build my gun collection. And, knowing what I now know, it seems only right to pass my knowledge along.’

His short e-book contains everything you need to know to own firearms or take up shooting with details on how to join the three main sports federations – Tir, Ball Trap and Chasse.

There are also sections on buying arms, storage and transport, and making your own ammunition, together with links to important documents and websites.

‘Back home in the UK if I declared in polite society my own interest in guns I would get a few askance looks,’ says Pearce who has written a series of books on health and safety madness in Britain.

Not so in France where just under a quarter of all households have guns, often between three and four per house, with around 20 million registered firearms in circulation – that’s with a population of 66 million.

‘In France, having a gun is not considered odd,’ he says. ‘So I joined my local gun club. I started off with a simple, inexpensive black powder revolver and now I have a shotgun, a hunting rifle, a semi-automatic assault rifle and a .45ACP handgun. To me, this seems just as unlikely as walking on the moon.’

Pearce says joining a club helped improve his French. ‘I got the numbers system off pat within a week because everybody at the club talks about caliber, distances and powder weights. I made friends and got to fire their weapons, too.

‘And I was lucky in my choice of club. Some can be a bit sterile where you just shoot at paper targets at varying distances. Others, like my own, are more anarchic, although just as hot on safety. If I want to drag along a giant refrigerator and blast it to pieces with a shotgun, no one will bat an eyelid.’

Pearce says his book is a continuing work in progress. E-books can be updated more swiftly and easily than conventional books and it’s hoped to continue to bring out improved editions. ‘So all help, comments and suggestions gratefully received,’ says Pearce.

Gun Ownership & Shooting in France is published on August 10 and is available for all digital e-book readers via Amazon and www.smashwords.com or direct at a discount from his website www.alanpearce.com/gun price Euros 3.99.