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The Languedoc Page Newsletter December 2009

The Languedoc Page newsletter, December 2009
This is a newsletter from The Languedoc Page. You are receiving this because you have registered with The Languedoc Forum or requested it through The Languedoc Page.

Wine :
Most vignerons are quietly confident that the 2009 harvest will produce an exceptionally good wine. Reasonable rain in spring, cool nights and hot days in June and July followed by a very hot August brought forward harvesting by 7 – 10 days in most areas.  Volumes will be around 8% down on 2008 (itself below average) at just under 12m hectolitres with whites reduced by around 25%.
The effects of the EU wine reforms aiming to grub up around 175,000 vines across the EU zone (and 12,000 hectares in Languedoc) are becoming visible in the area. Small and difficult areas of vines are being cleared of vines, but there are also areas being replanted with better quality vines.   CRAV (Regional Committee for Viticultural Action) has continued to make violent protests against this.
There is evidence that marketing effort continues to focus on the export of higher value and better quality wines. The umbrella brand name of Sud de France is increasingly being used.

Weather :
After another late Spring, the Summer was very dry and hotter than the last few years without being as hot as 2003. A few spells around 38C and a late autumn prolonged use of many unheated pools into November.

There were a few days of storms producing heavy rainfall in September / October, but no serious flooding. The period immediately before Xmas was changeable having clear skies and nights down to -6C, followed by a warm cloudy spell with some rain, followed by clear blue skies for December 25th.

Current river levels are available here : www.vigicrues.ecologie.gouv.fr
and risks by commune are now available at : www.prim.net/home.htm . Select Department, then risk, then commune, then zoom in.
Languedoc has largely escaped the low December temperatures and snow that created problems in north Europe. Road Traffic news is here : www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr.
Montpellier Tram :
Tram line 1 has been extended to near IKEA under the new Geant Hypermarket and shopping centre opened in September. The terminus is called Odysseum, and the old Odysseum station is renamed Place du France. Tram map : http://www.montpellier-agglo.com/tam/upload/CARTO_2009_10/TAM-Plan_2009_BD.pdf  There have also been suggestions to extend line 1 a little further from Odysseum to create a station & parking on the A9 autoroute and from Mosson West to an interchange with the future Line 3.

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 will be launched in summer 2012 as Juvignac to Perols and work has started. 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 proposals were published in June 2009. The intention is to run from Yves du Manoir rugby stadium in the south west via Promenade du Peyrou, then continue  towards Clapiers .
Georges Frêche has indicated that he would like to see a Line 6 following a  route from Castries to Odysseum.

Both Lines 5 & 6 are “future wishes” with no finalised programme agreed.

Rail :
The revised schedule is now :

2008 Public enquiry on Montpellier - Perpignan TGV line route
2010 (was 2009) Nimes - Montpellier TGV line bypass work starts
2011 Perpignan - Figueres TGV line in service
2015 (was 2011) Figueres - Girona - Barcelona TGV line in service
2014/5 Nimes - Montpellier TGV line rail bypass opens
2020 Montpellier - Perpignan dedicated TGV line in service
2020 Paris – Toulouse
2030 Toulouse - Narbonne

Services from Perpignan to Barcelona via a temporary station on the high speed line at Figueres and then the existing line are planned from summer 2010. This will give a one and half hour journey which is two hours quicker than currently via Portbou and Cerbère.

SNCF have announced that they are considering the closure of the Nimes - Clermont Ferrand rail line for passenger traffic. It was still running as of autumn 2009. More :http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=923

Montpellier road upgrades :
There have been various proposals regarding the A9 around Montpellier including 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.

During 2009 some of the Montpellier A9 junctions were improved to reduce the congestion in busy periods.

Improvements to the Northern Castries - A75 route continue. The forecast route map is here : http://www.herault.fr/territoire/pdf/lien.pdf  and the forecast completion date to the A750 is 2012 – 2015. More details (in French) :http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liaison_intercantonale_d'évitement_nord .

Note that ongoing decentralisation has made many RN (Routes Nationales) the responsibility of individual departments. Not only has much of the road numbering changed, but many of the now departmental roads have new speed ramps and changed traffic rules in places.

Autoroutes :
The final links from the A75-A9 near Beziers are still under construction.
Valras is now bypassed.
Additional sections will be opened in Spring 2010
The link will finally be opened in Spring 2011

The A750 link will eventually join the A9 near St Jean de Vedas. Current scheduling is for completion end 2011.
There is a plan to widen the A9  between Perpignan et le Perthus before 2015.

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 an effort to reduce road freight traffic, there is 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 2009. There is a map here : www.radarsfixes.com .

Air transport :
The poor economy has resulted in mothballed aircraft with some  abandoned routes and destinations, particularly over the winter.

News of summer 2010 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 http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3903 as it becomes available

Easyjet will fly Marseille - Bristol, Marseille - Gatwick, Montpellier – Gatwick, Montpellier - Luton as well as other routes to Barcelona and Toulouse. http://www.easyjet.com

Ryanair are establishing a new hub in Leeds/Bradford with flights to Carcassonne and Montpellier

Ryanair have announced that Glasgow Prestwick to Carcassonne will start in March

Flybe have announced their 2010 flights to Avignon and Perpignan : http://www.flybe.com

Ryanair have announced a new route Beziers to Stockholm Skavsta (S Stockholm near Nykoping).

After some speculation, BMIbaby - http://www.bmibaby.com – will operate Manchester to Perpignan in 2010

Ferries :
Current low cost cross channel favourite seems to be Norfolk Lines Dover-Dunkirk service. Forum users - http://the-languedoc-page.com/forum
 - prefer the P&O breakfast, though ! In fact, P&O are sometimes quite competitively priced as well.

2009 has been a relatively quiet year for property sales in Languedoc. Desirable, realistically priced houses continue to sell.

Four houses in a small village near me were offered for sale during 2009. Three sold – 2 at slightly reduced prices and one offered as “needs work & priced to sell” sold in 2 weeks. The last house - http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4299 – was offered for sale in December 2009 and has had several viewings.
Languedoc prices remain attractive compared with those in Provence and Cote d'Azur.

I have received several property related enquiries through the website  including those for Euro mortgages and currency exchange quotes.

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. Swiss Life -http://www.swisslife.fr/assurance/assurances - seem to be quite a popular choice at reasonable cost.

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

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 introduced parking charges, so the very dusty cars won’t be abandoned there for long periods in future !

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

Beziers airport :

Beziers airport continues to have 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 offers home deliveries via internet from some stores. 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.

Mail order :
Marks and Spencer have launched a mail order to France service -http://www.awin1.com/cread.php?s=92029&v=1402&q=59406&r=94461

Similarly, Littlewoods now have a similar service - http://clotheseu.at/tlp?CTY=1&CID=15243

Car hire excess insurance :
The standard car hire agreement leavers the hirer with an excess lkiability of around €1000 depending on car. Hire companies offer a daily rate insurance at a price of around €15 per day. It is worth noting that these people -http://www.insurance4carhire.com/thelanguedocpage - offer annual European cover for £49 . If you need more than a few days cover it is a better deal than the Hire Car Co rates.
Other than a finish in Mende, Lozere the tour will not visit Languedoc this year. Latest route information is collated here : http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3920

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

French Newspapers in English :
The English language newspaper French News finally folded in 2008 after 21 years. Despite appeals for funds and several proposed solutions it has remained closed.
A new English language French newspaper has been launched - http://www.thefrenchpaper.com – and joins The Connexion -http://www.connexionfrance.com – in providing “French news in English”.

Google Street View :
This is where a car with a 360° camera on the roof takes videos of streets (hence the name !). They started with cities in US and UK - then extended coverage. In 2008 they covered the Tour de France route and recently have been very active in Languedoc.  Faces, car registration numbers, even whole bodies in Cap d’Agde, are blurred to protect privacy. The procedure isn’t foolproof and individuals can ask for images to be blurred. More information and links - http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4307

The Languedoc Forum :
The spammers continue to attempt to register both manually and automatically. About 1 registration in 20 is genuine and accepted. If you have registered and heard nothing from us, please email us directly. Around 8000 topics are being read per day (these stats are excluded from The Languedoc Page stats below) and over 2.3m topics will be read in the 12 months to 31 December 2009. There is a very active free classifieds section. Only a small minority of readers contribute by posting.

The Languedoc Page : 
Google reports over 8000 pages of information including the forum.
Growth of traffic to The Languedoc Page slowed in 2008 reflecting the  economic situation. The rolling 12 months visitor numbers have increased for each of the last 5 months indicating that the slowdown maybe over.
315,000 unique visitors viewed 1.5m+ website pages in the 12 months to December 2009 (about 5000 pages viewed per day). 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 20+m 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 !

Please support our advertisers – they pay for this site.

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 !

Finally – some light relief from our own local eccentric :

Have a great 2010


© The Languedoc Page, December 2009
If you wish to use any of this content, please contact us at contact@the-languedoc-page.com


The Languedoc Page: all you need to know about visiting, and living in, Languedoc is at http://www.the-languedoc-page.com
Expat Foyer forum: forum for expats in France is at http://www.the-languedoc-page.com/forum

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