Third spring in France

I have noticed how quickly I become picky and dissatisfied. My first spring here, I was fresh from drought-stricken California, amazed at and delighted by the drifts of daffodils that just popped up out of nowhere, with no supplemental irrigation. In this, my third spring here, eh, daffodils, whatever. Just King Als. I need to order some other varieties.  And they were thrashed by the recent storms. I brought in a few; even shredded ones brighten a cloudy day. But they don’t thrill me like they used to.

I spent part of the morning at the prefecture, renewing my residence permit. My first year I was so pleased that I had more or less gamed the system. Folks in Paris dread this process, thanks to horrible waits, rude staff, arbitrary rules and all. Out here, the appointments happen spot on time and there is no hassle. Believe me, I am still pleased that I don’t renew my titre de séjour in Paris but why wasn’t the guy more friendly? I remember them being generally friendly. My friends have been teasing me, saying now that Trump is president, maybe I should apply for refugee status. This guy did not look to be in the mood for a joke, so I let it go. Still no hassle, for which I am still grateful. But where is that “welcome to France” vibe that I got used to? Does he think I voted for Trump? If so, maybe the joke would have gone well, after all.

Some things do still please me. All is not lost. One morning a couple of months ago I awoke to this little flood in my entry hall. My contractor did how much work without ever mentioning that oh, guess what, the front doors leaked like a sieve? How much? Over how many years? And he didn’t so much as throw in a little weatherstripping? So the floor was wet but I was steaming. Out with the old contractor, in with the new. Google to the rescue. The new guys are here today replacing these doors, sacred original fabric be damned. I think my new doors will withstand a hurricane. I hope never to find out.

16 thoughts on “Third spring in France

    1. If not that, at least complacency. It helps to remember how I used to marvel at green grass and affordable oysters, how quickly I switched my US health care to French and celebrated foie gras that wasn’t illegal, etc. There are good reasons to be happy here and maybe these days the bureaucracy is no worse in France than in the States. Well, okay, it can be horrible, but horrible in different ways.

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      1. For me, I am British born with a naturalised American Husband. 5 years ago, when we met, we both agreed we wanted to retire here. I moved nearly 4 years ago and I know I will never ever move back to the UK …. BUT we have healthcare in the US (really blue chip healthcare) and his pension will be paid in dollars. The heart says one thing, the head another but I try to put the brakes on for another year … he retires Christmas 2018 so there is still time for the world to grow a beard or spontaneously combust. Or anything in between. Meanwhile I just keep being positive and imagining us in our place (big house lots of land) here but I am realistic enough to know there needs to be a plan B. It won’t be Britain 😉

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        1. You never know. The dollar is pretty strong right now, which makes it a good time to buy. It might be possible that your health care can be used here; my own insurance was so far from blue chip that switching to my cheaper-but-better private insurance here was a no-brainer. Though you will pay US taxes no matter where you live, at least the tax treaty spares you some French taxes. Outside a few areas, your money buys a lot more house than it would in most livable parts of the States. It may well be that a move would, if not exactly pencil, at least not be such a bad idea after all.

          In my case, this house anywhere in the Bay Area would be hopelessly out of my reach. Add in the kinds of things that old folks need, which are more available and much more affordable here, and I wound up thinking it made sense to move. We shall see but when I think of moving back, it still seems that way to me.


  1. Let’s Get P*****d And See What Occurs.
    I am trying to get over there. Really. You know I am.


  2. The new doors look very nice and weather proof!

    As for the ennui – well, obviously you need a new project – perhaps cultivating heirloom flowers in that wonderful yard – that could bring in all sorts of new and interesting floral possibilities!




  3. The rain has come down so hard lately that everything leaks. We were nearly flooded a few weeks ago, but then, just a few days ago, it rained really hard again, and this time the roof leaked. Raindrops falling on my head rousted me from bed. It seems to depend on which way the wind blows, and whether it pushes the water up between certain roof tiles. Meanwhile, my car also leaked, and the back seat was soaked. It is not an old car.
    When I renewed my carte de séjour, the bureaucrat was astonished that we had a dossier, with each document in order, and photocopies of each, also in order. “I’ve never seen that,” she said. Poor thing. Mere competence amazes them. I wouldn’t last a day there.

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    1. Yes, this guy was surprised when I gave him copies, just like they request. When I handed him the entire financial report, not just the summary sheet, he kept it. I apologized but he said no, I want this. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. As for the rain, the sideways stuff is the worst. It gets up under the slates here, too. So far I’ve been spared car leaks. So far.

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  4. We had the leaky hall event in one of our previous houses…the FA – no, not French artisan but f…r with attitude – had forgotten to install the sealing strip…

    I was supposed to have a carte de sejour before the days of free movement in the EU. I filled out the forms and forgot about it. A year later, when the mairie was having a spring clean, they found my forms down the back of the filing cabinet.
    Redid forms, sent them to Prefecture…which was on strike at the time. I have no idea what they did with the forms, but nothing further materialised.
    The maire suggested I try a third time…sort of third time lucky…..
    I refused, so she made me out a series of temporary authorisations to remain in the territory, until she got fed up with that – or ran out of forms – at which point we both forgot about it.
    Those were the days of syteme D, though….

    I generally found French civil servants to be helpful and pleasant…though it did strike an odd note to my ears to be referred to in the tax office as a ´contribuable´…


    1. Oh, don’t I wish. “Systeme D,” file-and-forget, it sounds like heaven. I wonder whether this newish scrutiny of everyone and everything really, in the end, makes much difference to our safety and all. I agree with you, though, that despite a few cranks — no more than you will run into anywhere, anytime — most of the government workers I deal with are quite pleasant, much more pleasant than I had been led to expect. The rules may be crazy but the people trying to make them work are often quite sane and reasonable. And for all my grousing about my contractor, if he actually does do something, it generally turns out well.

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