So I just finished an all-day French exam, level B1, which is lower intermediate level. To become a citizen, I have to pass this thing. I figure these are my options. Photo 1, I passed. We can all relax. Photo 2, didn’t pass, misery. Photo 3, that’s me when it sinks in that I have to do the whole thing all over again. I’ll find out which applies in a couple of months.

For anyone in the same boat, the school giving the exam is Langue Onze. The hotel is Hotel Croix Baragnon: very basic but cheap, clean, well managed and just across from the school. I can recommend both of them.

I’m in Toulouse, for the first time in maybe a decade. With lockdown, many tests were canceled and trying to get one in Paris, well, forget it. So here I am, staying in the original city center, which is now pretty upscale. In general, Toulouse seems to have gentrified since I was here.

This neighborhood is full of antique stores and, as you can see, some interesting food: French if you must, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, take your pick. Within a 10-minute walk are more independently owned shops of all kinds, some incredible parks and gorgeous apartment buildings of all ages. They have trees here, big, old trees, with grass around them. Grass, not grates: take that, Paris. They haven’t done infill projects, so the apartment buildings still have big, leafy green gardens. In short, I like it here. I want to buy the storefront below and do something with it, I don’t even know what, don’t even care.

It’s getting hot. Chances are I’ll be happy to be back home, near La Rochelle, which is much more temperate. But to help ease the tension while I await my exam results, I’ll sip my new tipple, a bottle of armagnac from the ultimate Toulousain mancave, Domaine de Lastours.

Update: Cue the swans or the ducks, whatever they were. My results arrived: 94 out of 100. I should have done so well in school. There is plenty of that armagnac left, by the way. Come on by: we’ll celebrate.

14 thoughts on “Tested

  1. Of course you will pass.
    In the meantime, enjouy Toulouse…the city centre sounds just superb. I was last there some fifty years ago so snypoint of comparison has disappeared intot he void.
    Going for naturalisation to avoid all the TCN nonsense?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, exactly. The French bureaucracy is hassle enough without begging for permission to stay, every single year. Though actually, now that the Brexit bulge has gone through, the immigration folks are pretty easy to deal with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’re thinking of doing the same in Costa Rica. We have permanent residency, no bureaucratic hassles but renewals to pay every few years so it seems a good idea to cough up once and for all and get citizenship.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have no doubt you will pass. I got C2 on both the comprehension sections and B2 on both the expression sections. I did it at Kangarou in Toulouse, just off the periphérique, just before Covid. Submitted my application a year ago and still no news.
    I really like Toulouse. There are some similar spots in Paris, with trees and courtyards and birdsong in the middle of the metropolis, but they are not numerous. Here in Carcassonne, we have even more greenery, but it’s all hidden from the street in the city center.


    1. Wow. C2. In my dreams. The oral exam is a little weird. You sit there trying to do a coherent discussion of a topic, you know, ideas, and they don’t care what you say. They are listening for sentence construction, verb tenses, a whole different thing. Toward the end I popped out a future tense — “Next year I will go to the Netherlands,” so hardly exciting — and to them it was a big deal.

      Short run, I want to shift from an annual renewal to a 10-year. That will definitely happen, assuming I pass the exam. So if they want to sit on the citizenship thing, well, typical, but not a big deal.

      Toulouse is good. The summer heat might make things difficult, but sometimes I wonder what I would do if the house got to be too much for me — if, say, Julien gave notice. I would definitely consider moving here.


    1. Thanks. I wish I were as sure about this exam as everyone else is. But, yes, Toulouse is lovely. I had no idea, even though this is my second trip here. There must be other lovely towns that I haven’t been to, even once. I may need to do some exploring.


  3. Thank goodness I didn’t have to do a test! I ended up having only French citizenship because it was the only country willing to give me a dispensation from military service without much complication. When I turned 18 it was obligatory in Spain and Brazil (and France), with serious penalties for not complying.


    1. To judge by the stories I have heard, they ended compulsory military service here because it had become such a joke. Anybody who didn’t want to go could easily find a way out.

      I thought of you as I went by all the antique shops, painting restorers, etc. You must know this neighborhood pretty well.


  4. You have to learn the language in order to get citizenship? California and the rest of the US says, “Nah….” I would like to visit Toulouse but Le Trek is far and the difficulties of travel these days just dissuade me from the effort. Looks to be a fun place to visit. I mean, amps made from Old #7 bottles are always welcoming. I’m betting you pass with flying colors.


    1. Oh, that lamp! Apparently Jack Daniels did those as a promotional item. I bet the rest of them have disappeared into mancaves around the globe.

      Travel will happen again. But yeah, five hours on the train from Paris. Only to wind up in a room where I felt like I was pelting those folks with 45 minutes of the French equivalent of “Me talk pretty someday.” An experience I will never forget.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. After Jeffrey passed his language exam, it took him a year of recurring strange interviews to get citizenship. It appeared to him that his interviewers thought that because he worked for the State Dept., he must be C.I.A.


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