Travel Tips and Advice for Savvy French Travelers

Sometimes when traveling we forget that we are the visitors in the foreign country and we are the ones that should adjust to the differences around us. Traveling in a foreign country is a learning experience – that’s why we travel, right?Remember, being polite in any situation will take you a long way. Not knowing some basic French etiquette means that you might not be perceived as being polite! The following tips will help you avoid the culture shock that can occur when traveling.The Basics
When you greet people say ‘Bonjour, madame/mademoiselle’ or ‘Bonjour monsieur’. This basic premise of French etiquette is drilled into French children from day 1. You should add madame, mademoiselle, or monsieur after all greetings.
When entering a shop, be sure to greet the shop keeper! To not do so is considered rude. Do not forget to say ‘au revoir’ when you leave.
When paying at a counter there will be a small dish or rubber mat on which to place your money. Do not place your cash in the cashier’s hand. This is to ensure that there is no error in what is being given or received.
If asking for travel advice such as directions, etc, it is polite to start your request with ‘pardon’ (excuse me) and end it with ‘s’il vous plat’ (please). When a response is given do not forget to say ‘merci’! (thank you!).
Keep your voice low whether in a public area, shop, church or restaurant. Americans are known for being loud!
Meals/Restaurant etiquette also varies in France from the US.
If the restaurant menu is in English or if you can get an English menu you are likely to pay more because they cater to tourists.
To avoid pricey bottled water with your meal, request ‘une carafe d’eau, s’il vous plat’ (a carafe of water, please). If you want bottled water be sure to specify ‘san gaz’ if you want still water instead of carbonated.
If ordering a steak, you will be asked how you would like it cooked: ‘saignant’ (just sealed on each side and thus very rare), ‘ point’ (pink inside) or ‘bien cuit’ (well cooked, no pink). Of course, I would love to see your vocabulary increase but my best travel tip is to remember the specific word for the way YOU like your steak to begin with!
Bread is eaten by breaking off small bites with your fingers, not by biting from the whole piece. Refrain from nibbling on the bread before the meal starts.
There are no side plates for bread. Do not worry! The server will brush the tablecloth before the next course.
Keep your hands visible on the table but do not place your elbows on the table. This piece of French etiquette has its origins in history when people kept both hands visible on the table so that everyone would know what they were up to!
If you are a guest at someone’s house it is customary to bring a box of chocolates for the hostess or flowers. Do not bring chrysanthemums as they are associated with funerals! Do not bring a bottle of wine! The implication is that you would not be happy with your host’s choice of wine or that you do not feel they are capable of choosing an appropriate wine for the meal.
Tip etiquette requires that you place the tip on the table, if you leave one. Do not hand it to the server. Tipping etiquette – to tip or not to tip. In France, the tip is built in to the price of your meal. However, if the server has been particularly helpful (maybe he gave you directions to that museum you have been trying to locate) then you might want to leave a bit of your extra change on the table for him.
It is so nice to sit on the squares and have a drink or a meal as part of your France travels. Be aware, though, that it may be a bit pricier than at an establishment on a side street away from the square.
The experience is part of the trip! Build your budget to accommodate a bit extra for meals as you will want to sit and enjoy the two hour lunches like the French do!! With all the little details you still want your best travel advice to be “enjoy the ride”.
I hope this will help prepare you for the differences between your country and France so that your trip to France will be enjoyable and you will want to return time after time. Bonne vacance!

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How Property Managers Can Maximize ROI and Keep Properties Looking Good by Improving the Landscape

First impressions matter immensely, thus a property owner should never neglect their investment property’s landscaping. A real estate agent who is getting a property ready for sale spends time, energy and effort making the most of a property’s curb appeal to entice a potential buyer to buy for the highest possible price. A rule of thumb is that a realtor who invests $1 dollar of curb appeal improvements will gain their clients $3 of return at close of escrow. In the same vein, a property manager should counsel his clients to invest some time, energy and effort in sprucing up their rental property exterior landscaping to help attract more potential renters or keep the ones they have. The art of providing just enough curb appeal, just the right balance of attractive landscaping, while maintaining a fixed maintenance budget can be achieved through education, experience, and common sense. Experienced property managers should be able to put together a plan for their owners at no additional expense.Long Term Landscaping Planning for Your Portfolio of Properties is KeyAn experienced property manager can and will help their clients improve their exterior landscapes with just the right balance of attractive components while not breaking the bank. A proper mix will help the owner keep the property rented, while at the same time reduce the monthly maintenance of the property, which in turn reduces costs. For example, although lush, cool, beautifully manicured green grass is very attractive, the cost of installing and maintaining the grass is not as cost effective as keeping a small patch of grass with other drought resistant groundscape like gravel, bark, mulch and wood chips. These other ground cover alternatives also help keep moisture in the ground to reduce water consumption. An experienced property manager can evaluate and help an owner make some design changes to improve aesthetics and reduce maintenance costs.Trees, Trees, and More TreesOther than the property’s building a well-thought out scattering of trees are by far the most valuable asset a property exterior can have. Mature, gorgeous, and sky-reaching trees can also help reduce cooling costs for a rental property which in turn makes the property more attractive to rent. If your investment property lacks trees consider having an arborist or landscape architect suggest some different species of trees and locations to plant them on the property to maximize their possible benefits.Seven (7) Ideas for Low-Cost Landscaping When you have an opportunity you should get together with your property manager and try to implement a long-term plan for landscaping improvement and maintenance with the goal being to improve aesthetics and reduce maintenance costs. The following list includes some low-cost ideas to think about and brainstorm with your property manager:1) City Tree Program – Some cities and towns actually give away trees for property owners as long as the owner follows certain guidelines;2) Look for Sales – Wait until the end of the growing season to go shopping for trees, shrubs, soil and mulch because the retailers that didn’t sell all their inventory will be looking to get rid of these items at a discount;3) Demolished Buildings – Look around your neighborhood for demolition sites as there are often free bricks or other building materials which can be used in your landscaping designs;4) Work Your Existing Plants – Educate yourself to help keep and shape the trees and shrubs you already have to give them new life and vitality, or even relocate them.5) Buy Small – Buy smaller sized plants, shrubs, and trees which will be less than larger ones.6) Make Your Own Compost – You can easily build and maintain a composter on your rental property where you or your gardener deposits all of the grounds clippings, waste, and leaves. This compost will eventually produce fertilizer which is one more thing you won’t have to purchase.7) Use Drought Resistant Plants – Not only is water scarce, but it is getting more expensive on a monthly basis, so a collection of drought resistant plants is important for long-term maintenance cost reduction.Be Patient and Watch Your Property ROI and Exterior ImproveWhen you have slowly but surely implemented a long-term plan for exterior landscaping improvement and maintenance your reward will be improved aesthetics, reduced maintenance and reduced costs. More importantly your investment property will be more attractive to potential renters and those renters who do live there will not want to leave. Finally, the improvements and maintenance expenses are fully tax deductible provided you and/or your property manager has saved the receipts and properly recorded them.Remember, first impressions make a huge difference. A property owner should get together and implement a plan with their property manager and never neglect their investment property’s exterior landscaping and overall appearance. If your property manager is not making these types of suggestions maybe it is time to begin looking for a new property manager.

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Property Managers Owe Fiduciary Duties to Their Clients at Minimum

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