Monday, November 29, 2010

Cold Weather in November

To go to the start and the indices click here

The cold weather in November in the UK possibly may once again give rise to the opinion that it is so much warmer in France and it is not warranted for pensioners in France to receive the Winter Fuel Payment.
[note added December 10th 2010... On 9th December 8,000  people in vehicles were stranded in snow in the suburb of Paris called Vezily.  Large establishments and gyms were opened to shelter them overnight.]

[Note added December 18th - copied from France Meteo.]
Peut-il neiger sur les côtes méditerranéennes? Absolument. Contrairement aux idées reçues, la neige n'est pas rare en région méditerranéenne. On relève 25 épisodes majeurs sur 32 hivers (1970-71 à 2001-2002) avec une hauteur de neige au sol supérieure à 10 cm à basse altitude sur le Languedoc-Roussillon et Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. On a également enregistré des hauteurs de neige au sol supérieures à 50 cm à moins de 500 m d'altitude en 1970, 1981, 1986, 1992 et 2001.
La neige, souvent de type mouillée dans ces régions, peut ainsi paralyser ces départements peu acclimatés. Le mistral favorise de plus la formation de congères, catastrophiques pour le réseau routier.
  Part translation - Can it snow on the Mediterranean coast? Absolutely. Contrary to received ideas, snow is not rare.. There were 25 episodes in 32 winters (1970-71 to 2001-2002) with depths of snow above 10cm...  There were depths of snow above 50 cm below 500 metres in 1970,1981,1986,1992, and 2002.  
The soft snow can paralyse these departments less used to it. The mistral can cause snowdrifts catastrophic for the lorry routes.

On November 29th 2010 in the area of Cahors it was about 2 degrees and the overnight temperature was minus 2.  Periods of cold and snow also occur in November in France.  Some of the figures below would be normal for December and January to February, but not for November. Near Cahors it is normally about minus 8 at nights just before Christmas. Below is a translation from  the French official Meteorology site.
Episodes of snow at low altitudes  with  freezing temperatures are not exceptional in November, notably during the last ten days of the month.  They arrive often enough.

Exceptional winter episodes occurring in France in November in the last 30 years:

-- from 24th to  27th November 2005 : 15 cm of snow  at Grenoble and Maubeuge, 5 cm at Saint-Quentin (02) and 2 cm at Nantes (both November records). It was  minus 11°C at Grenoble on the 27th.
--  20th November 1999 : snow abundant in Provence. There was 23 cm at Montélimar, 15 cm at Aix-en-Provence, 23 cm at Orange.
--  November 1998 : Extreme cold occurred this month and made it the third coldest November since 1890. On the 23rd, it was minus14°C at Epinal, minus13°C at Nancy, minus12°C at Reims, minus10°C at Strasbourg, minus 8°C at Rouen. Some centimeters of snow covered the lower areas of  Lorraine to about 20 cms.
--  November 1996 : 20 cm at Besançon, 8cm at Auxerre, 95 cm at Bourg-Saint-Maurice (73).
--  November 1993 : The second coldest month of November since 1980. There was minus12°C at Clermont-Ferrand on the 23rd and a maximum of minus 4°C at Bourges on the 22nd.  An episode of snow and of freezing rain in the North : 7 cm fell at Dunkerque (record in November).
--  November 1988 : it snowed on the Côte d'Azur and also at Boulogne-sur-Mer (15cm) and at Touquand (10 cm). It was  minus 10°C at Mont-de-Marsan, minus 8°C at Toulouse and St-Nazaire, minus 7°C at Bordeaux.
--  end of November 1987 : snow to the North-East and on the Auvergne. 7 cm at Château-Chinon (58)on the 25th.
--  November 1985 : the coldest month of November ever recorded, practically no region was spared the snow. On the 24th 15 cm fell at Cherbourg, 12 cm at Strasbourg (record in November), 6 cm at Poitiers, 1 cm at Carcassonne and at Bordeaux.
--  end November 1982 : Snow periods in the Auvergne. 41 cm were measured  at Saint-Andienne (42) which was a record for the month of November.
-- fin November 1981 : Snowy period in the Auvergne, to the north of the Alps and up to the North-East giving 30 cm at Bourg- Saint- Maurice on the  30th  and some centimeters in the lower areas to the  North-East.

A comparison of the climate of Toulouse and London is viewable via the following link. It shows that Toulouse has slightly lower night-time temperatures in December and January, although day time winter temperatures are slightly higher.
click here to view.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Health Care in Europe

On the 27th October 2010 the European Parliament voted to ease the way for a more unified system of health care costing across Europe.  I quote  from the EU announcement..  "The new rules would especially help retirees living abroad, people with rare diseases and those living near borders to get the best health care. Currently, only about 1%, or €10 billion, of public health budgets are spent on cross-border health care yearly, although that figure could rise with standardised rules for authorisation and reimbursement."
To read the full announcement click on the following item
 It would seem that the matter is not finally agreed until next June.  
Last May 1st there were new Regulations which came into force which appear to make it necessary for British expatriate pensioners to have their health costs fully paid 100% by the UK NHS.   The UK [your home country] is under European Law the 'competent State' for the health care support of all those persons who are the titular holder of an 'S1' or 'E121'.   If you receive a full Old Age Pension from the UK it is desirable that you ensure that the DWP in Newcastle recognise that you have this cover, and that the CPAM in France are aware of your possession of such a cover.
I quote again from the announcement " Under the proposal, patients are to be reimbursed up to the level they would have received in their home country."
The EU Regulations are not straightforward and I fear the UK Whitehall bureaucracy does not aid the expatriates. 
If the pensioner expatriate does possess the entitlement of an S1-or E121- then under these new rules it seems very likely that the NHS will pick up the whole cost of approved treatment.  If you are not entitled then the situation is confused and you may need to maintain a full mutuelle cover.  We need anyway, further information.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Brits who go home. What do they find?

To go to the start of the blog and the Index - click here

The information in the item below is largely borrowed from the newspaper – The French Week of Oct 29- Nov 4 - 2010.
The paper had asked British people who had returned to the UK for their experiences about what they found when they arrived. Here are some extracts:-
‘A common problem is lack of proof of residence. Many doors do not open until one has utility bills, or other proof for the required length of time, even up to two years in some cases.’
A retired bank manager (a touch of irony here) could not easily open a bank account in England. He had kept a sterling account in Jersey but that bank would not transfer this account to England! ‘We have tried to open a normal current account with a high street bank in our home town but this was refused as we have to be on the electoral role for two years before we could be allowed a bank guarantee card.’
‘One or two financial institutions did not take lump sum investments from us unless we had a UK address for at least a year.’
It takes time to exchange the driver’s licence. ‘I did eventually manage to exchange my French driving licence back to the UK , partly as I had kept a photocopy of the old UK one with my driver number.’
Another writer says that she was not allowed to open an ISA or any other special investments because she had been living in France.
Insuring a car in the UK was also a problem. ‘None of the companies would take our French no-claims record into account’.
None of the contacts found that getting back into the NHS was a problem.
The reasons why the Britons returned were various. The lack of money because of the fall in the value of the £ was at the heart of many. The French removal of health cover in 2007 for young retirees, promoted many a move.
These are all matters which have been raised in this blogsite. Almost certainly many infringe the ‘right of free movement’ within the European Union.
Many of us, myself included, know how easy it is to open a bank account in France. I did so myself before being resident here. It was very easy to change my driving licence to a French one, and the French accepted the no-claims record in England.
Britain should change the law to remove these hidden discriminations against British Citizens returning to live in Britain.
This blog has long campaigned for political recognition of the needs of British expatriates in Europe. That is to say, we need some kind of Minister for British European residents.
The French Week  newspaper has unfortunately folded.  It had an excellent digest of French political and social affairs and items of interest to British residents in France. (Note added February 2011)