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BORDEAUX

Bordeaux: Reasons to move to France’s ‘wine capital’

The elegant southern French city of Bordeaux is a popular holiday spot, but adopted Bordelaise Bella Dally-Steele argues that it's also the perfect place to move it.

Bordeaux: Reasons to move to France's 'wine capital'
Bordeaux's Cité du vin wine museum. Photo: AFP

If Emily in Paris captured your imagination in quarantine, chances are you’re in the throes of plotting a not-so-socially-distanced move to the city. But before you book an overpriced Airbnb in the city with the worst air pollution in France, allow me to recommend an alternate destination: Bordeaux.

Whatever you’re seeking by living out your francophone dreams – a richer diet, a return to nature, a happening social life – chances are, you’ll find it in Bordeaux.

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With plenty of green space and a more relaxed pace of life, Bordeaux scores highly on quality of life indewes. Photo: AFP

Quality of Life

Ranked as the fourth most desirable French city to live in, Bordeaux beats Paris in both financial and meteorological climate.

While it is rich port city, your euro will go much further here than in the capital. And if you share the French preference for countryside living, the city is even more attractive; it’s just a day-trip away from the Atlantic coast and boasts a wealth of public parks within the city limits.

Surf Hub

If weather and quarantine restrictions allow, testing the waters around Bordeaux is a must.

While Bordeaux proper doesn’t border the ocean, a smattering of small surf villages are accessible from the city by train or bus. Sign up for lessons or simply rent a board if you’re a seasoned surfer in the charming beach towns of Biscarrosse Plage, Hossegor or Biarritz.

Speakeasies

Although the city never experienced prohibition, Bordeaux’s thriving bar scene has happily adopted the American speakeasy tradition.

For a clandestine drinking experience, swing by one of the city’s best-hidden speakeasies, Symbiose or CanCan Bordeaux, for a signature cocktail. Locating the bars might be difficult – Symbiose’s entrance is camouflaged by a grandfather clock and CanCan purports to be a pitiably small bookshop – but their intimate atmosphere is worth the search (once they reopen after lockdown, naturally).

Hipster Haven

Likely due to its flourishing skate culture, Bordeaux boats an impressive population of hipsters, and has the trendy neighborhoods to prove it.

The groovy pearl of the city is DARWIN, a former military barracks and general store that locals have since converted into a one-stop shop for entertainment. Among other attractions, the complex now boasts a bookstore, café and brunch spot, skate park and thrift shop. On weekends, there’s also a joint flea and farmer’s market.

The city's most famous product definitely lives up to the hype. Photo: AFP

Wine

Need I say more? Bordelaise wine is renowned for a reason.

Living within this wine culture gives you access to not only an abundance of tasting opportunities at local restaurants and nearby vineyards, but also two wine museums that specialise in the history of Bordeaux wine culture (and which also happen to offer tastings).

Your everyday diet will literally be infused with wine – many traditional sauces and meat dishes incorporate local wines. Pro tip for wine lovers: when in doubt, any dish described as à la bordelaise will likely be steeped in a local wine sauce.

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PROPERTY

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Plumbing ermergencies are common in France, so here's our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

How do I find a reliable plumber and avoid getting scammed?

First, try to stick with word-of-mouth if you can. Contact trusted individuals or resources, like your neighbours and friends, or foreigner-oriented Facebook groups for your area (ex. “American Expats in Paris”). This will help you find a more reliable plumber. If this is not an option for you, try “Pages Jaunes” (France’s ‘Yellow Pages’) to see reviews and plumbers (plomberie) in your area. 

Next, educate yourself on standard rates. If the situation is not an emergency, try to compare multiple plumbers to make sure the prices are in the correct range. 

Finally, always Google the name of the plumber you’ll be working with – this will help inform you as to whether anyone else has had a particularly positive (or negative) experience with them – and check that the company has a SIRET number.

This number should be on the work estimate (devis). You can also check them out online at societe.com. If you want to be extra careful you can also ask to see their carte artisan BTP (craftsman card). 

READ MORE: What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

Who is responsible for paying for work?

If you own the property, you are typically the one who is responsible for financing the plumbing expenses.

However if you’re in a shared building, you must determine the cause and location of the leak. If you cannot find the origin of the leak, you may need a plumber to come and locate it and provide you with an estimate. You can use this estimate when communicating with insurance, should the necessity arise. 

If you are a renter, the situation is a bit more complicated. Most of the time, water damage should be the landlord’s responsibility, but there are exceptions.

The landlord is obliged to carry out major repairs (ex. Natural disaster, serious plumbing issues) that are necessary for the maintenance and normal upkeep of the rented premises (as per, Article 6C of the law of July 6, 1989). The tenant, however, is expected to carry out routine maintenance, and minor repairs are also to be paid by the tenant. If the problem is the result of the tenant failing to maintain the property, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of the repair.

Legally speaking, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to get the boiler serviced once a year, as well as to maintain the faucets and joints, and to avoid clogging the pipes.

READ MORE: Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

If you end up in dispute with your landlord over costs, you can always reach out to ADIL, the national Housing Association which offers free legal advice for housing issues in France. 

What happens if the leak is coming from my neighbour’s property?

Both you and your neighbour should contact your respective housing insurance companies and file the ‘sinistre’ (damage) with them.

If you both agree on the facts you can file an amiable (in a friendly fashion), then matters are much more simple and you will not have to go through the back-and-forth of determining fault.

If having a friendly process is not possible, be sure to get an expert to assert where the leak is coming from and file this with your insurance company.

As always, keep evidence (lists and photographs) of the damage. Keep in mind that many insurance providers have a limited number of days after the start of the damage that you can file. Better to do it sooner than later, partially because, as with most administrative processes in France, it might take a bit of time.

Vocab

Plumbing has its own technical vocabulary so here are some words and phrases that you’re likely to need;

Hello, I have a leak in my home. I would like to request that a plumber come to give me an estimate of the damage and cost for repairs – Bonjour, j’ai une fuite chez moi. Je voudrais demander qu’un plombier vienne me donner une estimation des dégâts et du coût de la réparation. 

It is an emergency: C’est une urgence

I have no hot water: Je n’ai pas d’eau chaude

The boiler has stopped working: La chaudière ne fonctionne plus.

I cannot turn my tap off: Je ne peux pas arrêter le robinet.

The toilet is leaking: Mes toilettes fuient.

The toilet won’t flush/ is clogged: Mes toilettes sont bouchées

There is a bad smell coming from my septic tank: Il y a un mauvaise odeur provenant de ma fosse septique

I would like to get my electricity / boiler safety checked: Je souhaiterais une vérification de la sécurité de mon installation électrique / de ma chaudière

I can smell gas: Ca sent le gaz

My washing machine has broken: Ma machine a laver est cassée

Can you come immediately? Est-ce que vous pouvez venir tout de suite?

When can you come? Quand est-ce que vous pouvez venir?

How long will it take? Combien de temps cela prendra-t-il ?

How much do you charge? Quels sont vos prix? / Comment cela va-t-il coûter?

How can I pay you? Comment je peux vous payer ? 

Here are the key French vocabulary words for all things plumbing-related:

Dishwasher – Lave vaisselle

Bath – Baignoire

Shower – Douche

Kitchen Sink – Évier

Cupboard – Placard

Water meter – Compteur d’eau

The Septic Tank – La fosse septique

A leak – Une fuite

Bathroom sink – Le lavabo

The toilet – La toilette

Clogged – Bouché

To overflow – Déborder

A bad smell – Une mauvaise odeur

The flexible rotating tool used to unclog a pipe (and also the word for ferret in French) – Furet 

Water damage – Dégât des eaux

The damage – Le sinistre

And finally, do you know the French phrase Sourire du plombier? No, it’s not a cheerful plumber, it’s the phrase used in French for when a man bends down and his trouser waistband falls down, revealing either his underwear or the top of his buttocks. In Ebglish it’s builder’s bum, in French ‘plumber’s smile’.

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