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The Languedoc Page newsletter, December 2008

This is a newsletter from The Languedoc Page.

Wine :
The weather in 2008 will result in a lower yield of higher quality grapes available for winemaking this year.

EU wine reform aims to grub up around 175,000 vines across the EU zone in order to cut the risk of oversupply. France's national wine body has said that it has received applications to grub up more than 20,000 hectares of vines in the next year. Nearly two thirds of the vine areas put forward are in Languedoc Roussillon. CRAV (Regional Committee for Viticultural Action) has continued to make violent protests against this.

An entirely subjective analysis is that there are many more good quality Languedoc wines coming on the market and a much more adventurous marketing approach is being adopted for exports - (www.arrogantfrog.fr).

Weather :
After another late Spring, the Summer was average for the region. There were a couple of hot spells this year, but it was nowhere near the 2003 "canicule" summer. There was some heavy rainfall in October, but no flooding. The period immediately before Xmas enjoyed blue skies with chilly nights and warm days. From December 25th onwards we have had an overcast period with much rain resulting in limited flooding. The current situation is updated here : www.the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3115 . Current river levels are available here : www.vigicrues.ecologie.gouv.fr and risks by commune are now available here : www.prim.net/home.htm . Select Department, Then risk, then commune, then zoom in.

There has been snow in the Cevennes and Massif Central resulting in occasional closure of the A75 autoroute. The latest traffic news for A75 is here : www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr/diri/listeflashs.do?pageAstec=ie2_a75.html&langue=en&evt=1 .

Montpellier Tram :
Work has started on extending the Montpellier Tram line 1 towards a future new stop to be called Cité Ludique near IKEA (and future Geant Hypermarket). There have also been suggestions to extend line 1 a little further to create a station & parking on the A9 autoroute. Tram line 2 is intended to be extended East from St Jean de Vedas to Fabrègues, Cournonterral et Cournonsec as well as Northwest to Castries. I haven't seen any dates for these developments.

Tram line 3 was originally planned to go from Juvignac to Perols. It will now be launched in 2012 as Collines d'Estanove to Lattes. There is a longer term plan to extend the line from Lattes/Perols to run along the coast (but excluding Palavas) as far as Grande Motte. The colour scheme will use a coral reef theme.

Tram line 4 was initially proposed to adopt the route « la gare Saint-Roch et desservirait les quartiers de Figuerolles, La Chamberte, Montpellier Village, avant d'atteindre le stade Yves du Manoir ». It is still under discussion, resulting in various proposals that can be seen on the maps here : www.pagesperso-orange.fr/edouard.paris/trace_l4.htm .

Discussions on the route of tram line 5 (map : www.pagesperso-orange.fr/edouard.paris/ligne5.htm ) are still in the early stages. Georges Frêche has indicated that he would like to see a Line 6 following this route from Castries to Odysseum : www.pagesperso-orange.fr/edouard.paris/ligne6.htm . Both Line 5 & 6 are "future wishes" with no finalised programme agreed.

Rail :
President Sarkozy has announced an expanded and accelerated programme ( more : www.lexpress.fr/actualite/politique/l-etat-investit-dans-les-futures-lignes-grande-vitesse_605427.html ) of rail TGV projects. In Languedoc Roussillon this has resulted in some delays and the revised schedule is :
2008 Public enquiry on Montpellier - Perpignan TGV line route
2013 (was 2009) Nimes - Montpellier TGV line bypass work starts
2009 Perpignan - Figueres TGV line in service
2015 (was 2011) Figueres - Girona - Barcelona TGV line in service*
2013 Nimes - Montpellier TGV line rail bypass opens
2020 Montpellier - Perpignan dedicated TGV line in service
2020 Paris – Toulouse
2030 Toulouse - Narbonne
* More : www.la-clau.net/info/douche-froide-le-tgv-perpignan-barcelone-pas-avant-2015-1396

SNCF have announced that they are considering the closure of the Nimes - Clermont Ferrand rail line for passenger traffic. Politicians from the regions involved have met to prepare their defence of this action.

Montpellier road upgrades :
There have been various proposals regarding the A9 around Montpellierincluding a northern loop (creating a ring road) and duplicating the current southern route. Various other proposals (including rail & canal improvements ) are being considered as alternatives.

In the meantime, improvements to the Northern Castries - A75 route continue. The forecast route map is here : http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/routes/images//thumb/a/a4/LIEN.jpg/800px-LIEN.jpg and the forecast completion dates are :
2008 : Ouverture annoncée (le 2 décembre) du LIEN entre Assas et Les Matelles 2012 : Début annoncé des travaux entre Saint-Gély-du-Fesc et Bel-Air
2015 : Ouverture annoncée du LIEN entre Saint-Gély-du-Fesc et Bel-Air
2015 : Ouverture annoncée de la LICOM entre Saint-Georges-d'Orques et Fabrègues

Autoroutes :
The final links from the A75-A9 near Beziers are still not completed. The Montpellier CCI has published these dates :
2008 (end) Valros to Beziers section opens
2009 (end) Pezenas - Valros section opens

Canal :
The Canal du Rhône à Sète (which is part of the Canal du Midi Bordeaux to Rhone route) has been carrying much increased freight traffic in recent years. As part of a plan to reduce road freight traffic, there is now a plan to improve the capacity of the canal. Essentially the improvements will allow bigger boats and faster transit time through locks by 2013.

Road :
More fixed radar traps have been installed in the area during 2008. There is a map here : www.radarsfixes.com .


Air transport :
The economic situation is hitting airlines hard, and particularly low cost operations. Both Ryanair and Easyjet have adequate funds to continue with the lowest costs with the hope that competitors will not survive. Nevertheless Ryanair has mothballed some aircraft over winter. They have also abandoned less supported routes and destinations.

News of summer 2009 timetables continues to be released, and confirmed routes will be updated at www.the-languedoc-page.com/tourism/languedoc-tourism-air.htm when available.

News is noted at www.the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2906 as it becomes available. Current information and changes :
• Ryanair has announced that it will fly Marseille to Cagliari (Italy) in 2009
• Sterling Airlines filed for bankruptcy in October 2008
• BMI has been taken over by Lufthansa; it is rumoured that BMIbaby is for sale and FlyBe may be interested
• Cancelled route : Air France Bordeaux – Montpellier
• Cancelled route : Air France Clermont-Ferrand – Montpellier
• Cancelled route : Lufthansa Dusseldorf – Marseille
• Cancelled route : Ryanair London Stansted – Toulon
• Cancelled route : Wizz Air Sofia – Barcelona
• Cancelled route : Ryanair all routes to Blackpool inc Girona
• Cancelled route : Ryanair all routes to Newquay inc Girona
• Cancelled route : Ryanair Nimes – East Midlands Airport
• Ryanair are expanding flights from Gatwick including Girona - Gatwick from December 2008
• Beziers will have year round flights to Bristol and Luton with Stansted available off peak
• There are rumours that Beziers may also have flights to Dublin and a N European location starting in 2009

GB Airways (BA franchisee Gatwick-Montpellier) were taken over by Easyjet and ran a limited service through the winter.

Ferries :
Speedferries went into liquidation in November 2008. Current low cost cross channel favourite seems to be Norfolk Lines Dover-Dunkirk service.

Property:
2008 has been a relatively quiet year for property sales in Languedoc. Desirable houses continue to sell. Languedoc prices remain attractive compared with those in Provence and Cote d'Azur.

Swimming pools :
Five of the six alarms previously approved for private pools had their approval withdrawn. Subsequently 4 of the 5 approved alarms which had their approval withdrawn were approved again. The alarm that was approved, then not approved, and remains not approved is the "Alpool-JB 2005 commercialisé par JR International et Alpote". No, I can't understand it either !

Health cover :
The situation now is that new arrivals must take private health cover until they have either been in France for 5 years, or reach retirement age.

Blogs :
The number of South France residents blogging in English has steadily increased. We maintain links to the more disciplined (and interesting) bloggers here : www.the-languedoc-page.com/articles/languedoc-articles01d.htm

Elections :
The EU elections will be held in June 2009. EU nationals who are resident are entitled to vote provided they register before 31/12/2008.

Airport parking :
Montpellier Airport has a car park pass at 18 euros for a period of between 7 to 15 days inclusive : www.montpellier.aeroport.fr/layer_en.asp?nav=6_1_5

Marseille airport has www.chequeparking.com/accueil.do , which is much cheaper and less than 5 minutes walk from the terminal.

Beziers has free parking, but there have been reports of vandalism

Novotel Girona provides a free shuttle service and free parking included in the cost of one nights stay.


For Brits doing business with Languedoc :
The region has opened a central London premises to promote commercial interests between UK and the south of France.
La Maison de la Région Languedoc-Roussillon, 6 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PD, Tel. 020 7079 33 44
www.maisondelaregionlanguedocroussillon.com

Beziers airport :
Beziers airport has had a succesful start with above average passenger numbers. There is a shuttle bus waiting at the airport to take passengers to Beziers bus station (Fare €3). The free shuttle runs from there to the train station.

Intermarche home delivery :
www.expressmarche.com is starting to experiment with home deliveries via internet. Cost is €5 for delivery (first one free) and €4 to put the order together. Or save €5 and just collect it yourself. The website allows you to enter your postcode to check if it is available in your area.

FOR SALE 35 feet sailboat with mooring :
FEELING 346, Port Camargue mooring in Dept 30, 10m40 X 3m46 X 1m40
More : www.feeling346.com

Tour de France 2009 :
The outline Languedoc route is –
July 6, stage 3: Marseille - La Grande Motte
July 7, stage 4: Montpellier - Montpellier, TTT 38km
July 8, stage 5: Cap d'Agde - Perpignan
The exact route will be announced in early 2009.

Local history :
Herault Department have put a huge number of scanned historical archives on the web here : http://archives.herault.fr

M&S mail order to France :
M&S will now deliver some of their mail order range to France. Marks & Spencer products will be sold in pounds Sterling on a Delivery Duty unpaid basis. The recipient may have to pay import duty or a formal customs entry fee prior to or on delivery. Clothing and selected homeware and beauty products will be available with delivery approximately 6 -9 days at a cost of £10.00. Website : www.marksandspencer.com

English breakfast in Montpellier :
Vert Anglais (3 place Castellane, Montpellier, 34000 – 0467660303) will be serving an English breakfast/Brunch on Saturdays. Homemade sausages, bacon, eggs, baked beans, fries, fried tomatoes.

The Languedoc Forum :
www.the-languedoc-page.com/forum
The spammers continue to attempt to register both manually and automatically. About 1 registration in 25 is genuine and accepted. If you have registered and heard nothing from us, please email us directly. Around 6000 topics are being read per day. 1,972,807 topics were read in the 12 months to 31 December 2008. There is a very active free classifieds section. Only a small minority of readers contribute by posting.

The Languedoc Page :
www.the-languedoc-page.com
Google reports over 4000 pages of information including the forum.
The exponential growth of traffic to The Languedoc Page has slowed reflecting the current economic situation. For the first time, rolling 12 months unique visitor totals reduced. 335,000 unique visitors viewed around 1,500,000 pages in the 12 months to December 2008.

The Languedoc Page remains a community driven website. Contributions from users have greatly enhanced the photo section (now 450+ images), restaurant reviews, and articles (now over 200 articles). Together with the forum, this visitor participation has driven the expansion of The Languedoc Page. The Languedoc Page has been in the top three for the keyword "languedoc" on google.com and google.co.uk since November 2005. Google has 25m – 42m references for Languedoc.

The advertising that was started early 2006 has progressed. The rates are remarkably reasonable given the visitor numbers – small banner ads cost from Euro 1 per 1000 views. More information about advertising and statistics : www.the-languedoc-page.com/languedoc-advertising.htm . There will continue to be no pop-ups, porno or gambling ads !

We hope that you have found The Languedoc Page useful. If you haven't visited it for a while, it is worth a look to see how it has developed. And I'm still happy to receive article, photo and restaurant review contributions !

Have a great 2009

Peter

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