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The Languedoc Page Newsletter

winter 2013/2014


Weather :
Early weather in 2013 was mixed with some cold spells. Spring was very long with heavy rainfall and some late frosts. The much delayed summer proved to be mainly dry and hot. This extended late into autumn. Winter 2013/2014 has been mild and relatively dry. 

Wine :
The late spring delayed vine development by two to three weeks. Initially there was concern that rain and late frosts would result in a reduced yield. In fact Languedoc largely escaped the worst of the rain, frost and hail both in spring and early summer that damaged crops in some other regions of France. The summer proved to be long and hot with adequate rain followed by a warm dry autumn. The hot summer will provide good quality wine in most cases and the long autumn allowed harvest timing to be optimised. 
The vendange was two to three weeks later than normal and overall the yield is expected to be 13.2m Hl, an increase of 10% over the poor yields of 2012. By contrast, Bordeaux yields are estimated at 20% less than 2012.    

Montpellier Tram :
The four lines operating in Montpellier currently carry around 300,000 journeys per day. A map of the current network with linked bus services is here
Future tramway plans subject to funding being available are :
  • Extension of line 1 east to Grammont, A9 and future TGV station (Confirmed January 2013, completion 2017)
  • Extension of line 2 north to Le Cres, Vendargues and Castries
  • Extension of line 2 south to Saussan, Fabregues, Cournenterral, Cournonsec, Montbazin, Gigean, Poussan
  • Extension of line 3 north to Fontcaude
  • Extension of line 3 south to Maguelone, Palavas, Carnon, Grande Motte
  • Line 5 : A new north - south line from Prades le Lez to Laverune via Montferrier, Clapiers and the city centre. Phase 1 Clapiers to Laverune is scheduled to start in 2014 with a completion date of 2017. Phase 2 from Clapiers to Prades les Lez is currently unfunded but has a scheduled completion date of 2020.
  • Line 6 : A new direct line from the city centre to Sablassou linking to the line 2 Jacou spur remains unconfirmed.
Link to proposed line 5 route map 

Rail :
The first through TGV trains running from Paris to Barcelona commenced in 2013. Achievement of a 4.5 hr journey time requires completion of the Nimes to Perpignan dedicated track. The planned acceleration of TGV development has been reduced for budgetary reasons and the crucial Perpignan to Montpellier section now appears to be unlikely to be completed before 2030. Paris to Barcelona now takes 6h 30m with Montpellier being the half way in time (but not in distance !).

The revised schedule is now :
  • 2017 Tours - Bordeaux TGV line opened
  • 2017 Nimes - Montpellier TGV line rail bypass opens. 
  • 2030+ Toulouse - Bordeaux TGV line opened
  • 2030+ Montpellier - Perpignan dedicated TGV line in service.
  • Toulouse - Narbonne has now been abandoned
 
  • The weekly summer Eurostar service direct from St Pancras to Avignon will continue in 2014 taking around 5h30m.
  • There are currently four trains each day St Pancras to Montpellier ( 1 change at Lille) taking around 7 hours. 

Montpellier road upgrades :
Work has commenced to make the existing A9 autoroute an urban motorway and add a new stretch of A9 through Montpellier by 2017. This is intended to separate Montpellier commuter traffic from long distance users of the Italy - Spain corridor. The planned A750 / A9 junction has been abandoned. 

Autoroutes :
Work has commenced on widening the A9 between Perpignan et le Perthus. Completion is scheduled for 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, work has been comleted ro widen locks etc allowing loads to be increased from 300t to 1500t. 

Air transport :
Again the economic situation has resulted in cancelled routes and the mothballing of aircraft this winter. At the end of 2013 low bookings required Ryanair to reduce prices and launch a new customer service drive. News of summer 2014 timetables continues to be released, and confirmed routes will be updated at http://www.the-languedoc-page.com/tourism/languedoc-tourism-air.htm when available. 
Day by day news is summarised here : http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7533
  • Ryanair carried 82m passengers in 2013.
  • Ryanair are increasingly using major airports including Barcelona, Gatwick, Madrid, etc 
  • Aer Lingus will operate flights Perpignan to Dublin starting 1/5/2014 
  • Flybe will operate flights from Perpignan to both Birmingham and Southampton starting 24/5/2014
  • Rodez , Nimes and Carcassonne airports are under investigation by the EU in relation to illegal subsidies.
  • Volotea will fly Perpignan - Nantes from April, 28th 2014 with 2 flights/week and probably 3 flights/week for July and August months.
  • Ryanair are now selling 2014 flights from Leeds to Montpellier on Mondays and Thursdays commencing Monday 31 March.
  • Air Corsica will launch 2 new destinations for 2014 from Perpignan to Ajaccio & Calvi flying July, 2014 to September 2014
  • For those in E Languedoc, Easyjet is expanding its routes to Lyon. They also have UK routes from Barcelona, Toulouse, Montpellier and Marseille.
  • Ryanair are opening a 2nd Belgian base at Zaventem with 10 new routes. Those in the SW of Languedoc will benefit from 6 daily flights to Barcelona.
  • Flybe is abandoning their Beziers flights as part of a radical cost cutting exercise 
  • Ryanair announced a new route Beziers - Bremen
  • Ryanair has cut several routes from Swedish airports, including Gothenburg, Nyköping and Västerås. Karlstad, Växjö , Kalmar and Ängelholm. Flights from Nykoping to Marseille, Beziers and Barcelona continue.
  • SAS is to launch a summer only weekly service Montpellier - Copenhagen.
  • Ryanair's Perpignan - Birmingham service will not run in 2014 
  • Easyjet have announced a Montpellier - Basel route starting April 2014
  • There are ongoing disputes with low cost flights to Morocco. Ryanair will not operate Nador - Girona and Oujda – Marseille routes in 2014
  • Ryanair will fly Manchester to Barcelona in 2014
  • Starting April 18, 2014, a new route Montpellier - Rotterdam with Transavia.
  • Ryanair will fly Marseille to Lisbon in 2014
  • Cityjet will have a weekly service Amsterdam - Perpignan this summer
Ferries :
MyFerrylink (ex SeaFrance) won an anti monopoly case and are currently offering some very cheap crossings. DFDS seaways generally offer good short route rates with their Dover - Dunkerque service. LD lines tend to be competitive on longer routes. As always there are many special offers and they may be worthwhile.

Property :
2013 has shown a slight upturn in the Languedoc property market. Strengthening of the £ and an improving UK property market have also brought some UK buyers back in the market. Languedoc prices remain attractive compared with those in Provence and Cote d'Azur. 

Exchange rates :
2012 problems in South Europe resulted in a weakened Euro and the pound reached £1 = €1.28 in 2012. As the Euro recovered ground the pound traded around £1 = €1.15 for much of 2013. Improvements in the UK economy resulted in a strengthening of the £ at the end of the year and it is now trading around £1 = €1.22
I've used Currencies Direct who are flexible, efficient and provide good rateshttps://www.currenciesdirect.com

Airport parking :


Car hire excess insurance :
The standard car hire agreement leaves the hirer with an excess liability of around €1000 depending on car. Hire companies offer a daily rate insurance at a price of up to €15 per day. It is worth noting that www.insurance4carhire.com offer annual European cover for under £40 . If you need more than a few days cover it is a better deal than the Hire Car Co rates.

Tour de France 2014 :
The 2014 TdF starts in Leeds, UK and spends more time there and in Belgium than usual. A consequence of this is that little time will be spent in Languedoc. The route details will not be announced until April. The outline route includes this time in Languedoc :
  • On-line    Sunday, July 20th    Tallard > Nîmes    222 km    
  • Rest day    Monday, July 21st    Carcassonne        
  • On-line    Tuesday, July 22nd    Carcassonne > Bagnères-de-Luchon    237 km    
Latest information will be posted here : http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=7581

Useful information :
Links to useful information are maintained on the forum here : http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB3/viewforum.php?f=28 . These links will not be pruned but will be edited to keep them up to date.

The Languedoc Forum :
http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB3/index.php
If you have registered and heard nothing from us, please email us directly. The spam filters that are in place are occasionally too rigorous. Around 3000 topics are being read per day (these stats are excluded from The Languedoc Page stats below) and 1.1m topics were read in the 12 months to 31 December 2013. There is an active free classifieds section. Only a small minority of readers contribute by posting. During 2013Q4, the total all time views of forum topics achieved 12.4m. In keeping with most of the "traditional" forums usage has fallen due to the growth of Facebook and the reduction of newcomers seeking answers.
The FB page I created continues to steadily expand at https://www.facebook.com/groups/3336035598

The Languedoc Page : 
www.the-languedoc-page.com
Google reports 12,000 references for the search term "the languedoc page". It is currently ranked as 5th from 21m for the search term "languedoc". It has been in the top five results for the term Languedoc using google.com and google.co.uk since 2005. 340,000 unique visitors viewed around 1.7m website pages in the 12 months to December 2013 (about 4500pages viewed per day).
Since 2002 3.5m visitors have viewed around 17m pages.
The Languedoc Page remains a community driven website. 
Contributions from users have greatly enhanced the forum, photo section and articles. Together with the forum, this visitor participation has driven the expansion of The Languedoc Page.  
Inevitably parts have become out of date and a revamp is planned this year.

British groceries :
Times have been tough for dedicated British gocers in France. There are fewer UK permanent residents, fewer newcomers, better availability in French supermarkets and cheaper flights have resulted in more short visits. Best of British had 14 supermarkets and mail order but closed some years ago. Epicerie Barenton Butcher who delivered widely to Languedoc ceased trading at the end of 2013. Useful contacts of suppliers in Languedoc :
  • http://www.foudanglais.fr has relocated from Clermont l'Herault to 10 Rue Anatole France, 34000 Montpellier. Victoria tells me it is easy to find being next to the sex shop !
  • http://www.johnpricethebutcher.com delivers across Languedoc and is well regarded
  • http://www.mistersaucisse.fr delivers in Aude and P-O. 
  • Lidl stock a limited range during their twice yearly British weeks
  • http://les-chenes.eu/index.php supplies British goods for sale via a number of shops and collection points throughout Languedoc-Roussillon.
  • Mondial market in Montpellier stocks UK packaged goods, beer and deep frozen products
  • Most Asian markets carry some British products
  • There are better British grocers in the UK ghettos of Costa Brava
  • http://www.britsfoodstop.com are in Narbonne
  • Most French supermarket chains sell a few lines of British grocery

UK Satellite TV :
The channels received from 28.2E have recently moved to a new satellite. Sky channels remain on a broad European beam but the free domestic UK channels have moved to a narrow UK beam. This has resulted in a sharp fall off in the signal as you move broadly South.The pattern is irregular but the fall off at the edges is rapid. It is quite recent, but early reports suggest that bigger dishes will be needed from Central France southward. Around Montpellier 90cm to 1m dishes seem to be working reliably. South of Perpignan 1.5m to 1.8m dishes may be needed. Over 1m diameter there are mounting and planning problems to consider. There are internet solutions available. Follow discussions here :
http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=7676
http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=7664
http://the-languedoc-page.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=7662
  

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 2014

Peter

© The Languedoc Page, February 2014

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