Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Nearly 3000 new enterprises in my small French home town.........

'2 792 new enterprises in ten years' says the headline in my local newspaper L'Indépendant - surely good news for any small town of just over 100 000 people (200 000 if you include the outlying suburbs and villages.

Analysing the accompanying report however, there are a number of anomales which make interesting reading. Anyone who visits the area cannot fail to miss the large number of 'wind farms' which generate electricity as huge windmills are driven by the prevailing Tramontane gales blowing in from the north-west. What few people know is that every one of these - together with solar panels taking advantage of the 300 days per year of sunshine -  has to be registered at the local chamber of commerce as a 'business', adding considerably to the list of new 'enterprises' created - comprising around 300 to 400 'éoliennes' (windmills) implanted in the reagion.

The other major contributors are those registering as 'auto-entrepreneurs' following the creation of this self-employment regime in 2008 designed to encourage small, individual business start-ups. Of these some 75% are listed as 'personal srvices' - from hairdressing to all types of care provision addressed largely at the region's growing elderly population. The area is one of the most popular in France for retirement - remarkably cheap housing, wide range of medical services from major hospitals and clincis to thermal spas.

Plus the sunshine already mentioned and the proximity of the Mediterranean coast and the border with Spain (Barcelona is only two hours drive away) which make Pyrénées-Orientales one of the most attractive areas of France.

Posted by peterdanton@orange.fr