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We Actually Accomplished Something Today

Today was the day to make another attempt at changing the address on our Titre de Sejour and to get Tinki’s paperwork completed. When we went to the Marseille Prefecture last week, they told us we had to go to the Prefecture in the new department that we had moved to. We had wasted a trip on that one. If you missed that post, you can read about the bad trip here.

So today we took off to see what we could (or could not) accomplish with the French administration. The day started off pretty well since the Prefecture in our department is a lot closer and it’s a lot easier to get to. It happened to be a lot less crowded, too. This was looking good.

It was also ‘park like a French person day’ for Dude. I think he’s got the hang of it.

We walked up to grab a ticket and it said that the window was closed even though we got there an hour and a half before closing time. Wow, sounds French. Since we had made the trip all the way there, we just walked right up to an open window and told the lady that we had moved and all we needed to do was change the address on our current Titre de Sejour. Do you know what she told me?? She said they didn’t do that there and that I had to go to my town Maire to get that done! Are you kidding me?? I told her that I went to the Marseille Prefecture last week (cuz that was where I got my current one) and they said to come to this one. She gave me that French “I don’t give a crap” Administration look and in all uncertain terms told me, “No, we don’t do that here. Go to your local Maire.”

Now, folks, how am I supposed to believe that when this was high end, government official, I had to go to the Prefecture a bazillion times to get the first one business??! I seriously thought she was pulling my leg and putting us off. Then I said, “What about my daughter? The Marseille Prefecture lost her file. They said I had to re-submit her paperwork here.”

She then tells me that’s true and hands me a paper to fill out and then tells me to come back with all the listed documents that were on the back (originals and photo copies). I think she just wanted me out of the way so she was sure to leave on time (in one hour and 15 minutes). Well I said to her, “Check it, babe. I have all of it.” She was like, “Everything on the list?” with a bit of an attitude. I said, “Yup” with a big smile. You see, I’ve been here long enough and been to enough government offices to know that each time you go, you need to bring a ton of copies of every flippin’ piece of identity you have PLUS all the originals.

She told me to go fill out the form and come back to her window. She wasn’t nice about it either.

After doing so, and gathering all the documents (originals and copies just like it said on the form), we walked back up to window and handed it to her. Know what?? She didn’t even want the originals! She just looked over everything in a half second and then told us that they probably wouldn’t accept the photos (you have to bring those tiny, passport size photos, too) because she said they weren’t real! I was like, “Lady, feel them. They are photos!” She said okay in a questioning way and paperclipped everything together. Then she asked me for an envelope with a stamp on it. Oh, come on! Like I carry those in my back pocket! This was something no one ever asked us before so I was unprepared. Now I gotta remember that, too??

I told her I didn’t have one and she let it slide (probably cuz her time to go was getting down to 45 minutes). Then she reminded Dude and I to go to the Maire for our situation and that we should hear something in about a month regarding Tinki’s paperwork. Au Revoir.

Dude and I went home and after lunch we took all of our paperwork and walked over to our town Maire all prepared for rejection. Well, you are never going to believe it! The lady in the office said that they could do the address change for us, no problem and that we went to the Prefecture for nothing. Thanks, cuz I hadn’t figured that one out already.

Well I happen to like my town Maire cuz the two times I’ve been there, these guys were real nice with me and patient and they helped me out. This lady was super nice and she even said that I could fill out paperwork on Dude to get his Titre de Sejour renewed and it would be ready for him at the end of the year. She gave me the paper I needed to fill out and asked for copies of our documents. Well, of course, I had those! Then she opened a file on us and we were set. I told her about what had happened with Tinki and she said that if I didn’t receive her Titre de Sejour in about a month to come on back to her office and she would take care of it. Cool beans! That was awesome!

Then after all the formalities she chatted with us a bit. I asked her if there was an archive for the town because I wanted to find out the history of the house I had just bought. She called her colleague and found the name of the guy to go see tomorrow who’s in charge of the town Patrimony and knows all things history. Boy, was I stoked and I am going to make an appointment tomorrow morning with him before going to work!

Wow! Two things accomplished in one day and all just around the corner from me. I’m liking my little country town more and more.

As Dude and I were leaving the Maire, we stopped by a tiny room they have in the back that holds some ancient relics of things dug up in the town over the years. You’re not going to believe it! They have a skeleton of a guy inside his coffin that dates back to the Middle Ages! It was so cool. Dude and I read all about the dig and looked around at the artifacts that were found. Most of them were found in the year 1988. It was really neat! They found several people buried with pottery and had a bunch of pictures on the wall that told of how life and death was during the time period of when these people were alive.

All in all, I think it was a pretty successful day and I’m feeling good right now. I finally accomplished something (even though from start to finish it was a bit of a pain) and now I get to hopefully find some information on my house.

Oh yeah! If I hadn’t gone to the Maire I would have never seen this guy.

Wasting Time In Marseille Is Never Fun

Well today was another fun day in Marseille, NOT. The family had to go to the prefecture to change the address on our Titre de Sejour (our pass to live in France). It’s the law.

First of all, the prefecture is not a fun place to be. If any of you have gone, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t had to experience it let me tell you I would rather clean my neighbor’s bathroom than go there.

Second of all, now that we moved the Marseille prefecture is really far away (that’s a good point, as well). When we first moved to France we lived in department 13, the Bouches-du-Rhône. For our department and area we were obliged to go to Marseille in order to get our legal status taken care of. We’ve had to go several times with all kinds of paperwork and a million copies of everything before we were finally given the golden (or rather pink) pass to be here legally.

The last time we went was to pick up our Titre de Sejour. It was finally ready after many, many month of being here. At that time we knew we were going to move and we also knew that we were moving out of the Bouches-du-Rhône, so I asked the lady who gave us our Titre de Sejour if we needed to come back to change our address on our “passes” and I also let her know where we were moving to. She told me that we absolutely had to come back when we moved it was the law. I also told her that my daughter had not yet received her legal paperwork. She then said to come back anytime after July and to bring tax stamps with us and her paperwork would be ready.

Well, today was the big day. I had all my bazillion copies and all the originals. We got up early and we took of for Marseille. When we got there we had to first wait outside in a line. See, you have to make it to door #1 before you can try for door #2. The lady asked for our “justification de domcile” and our current Titre de Sejour.

I had them all ready, handed them to her and said, “Check it”. Cuz I figure I’m cool like that.

She then gave us three numbers (why a whole family can’t share one number is beyond me and lame, I might add). Then she said to go upstairs and we would be called. Onward and upward towards door #2.

The good thing is that we didn’t have to wait too long today. For some odd reason it wasn’t as crowded as it usually is. When they called us in to the “special room” we were greeted by a very nice guy. He already had our paperwork in his hands and was ready to give it back to us immediately. He explained to us that now we had to go to the prefecture in our own department. He couldn’t help us. I told him that I specifically asked the lady who helped us before about this situation and changing addresses and all and she told us to come back to Marseille. He felt bad, of course, and I did believe him. He really did try to help and explain to us exactly what we had to do, but I was upset that I had tried to get the straight answer ahead of time and it didn’t work.

To make matters worse, we tried to get Tinki’s legal paperwork (remember it was supposed to be ready after July) and the guy couldn’t find her file and paperwork anywhere. He took her passport and went looking in several places to find it. Didn’t happen. I told him that we’ve been here for almost a year and she has no legal paperwork. Then he proceeds to tell me that as long as she stays in France she will be fine.

Problem. We’re American. Our whole family lives in America. She has plans to go visit them at Christmas. If she doesn’t have her paperwork she can definitely go to the states for her visit, but I wouldn’t be able to get her back. I see this as a major issue, which I told the man, very politely. (Really I did, it was nothing against him). I told him that I really would like to have her back and this just wasn’t acceptable.

He said that he would try one more time to check in a few other places and again walked off with her passport. Dude and I just sat there thinking about what a big waste of time this was.

The guy came back a few minutes later saying he couldn’t find anything, no record what-so-ever! How could this be when we all turned in our paperwork at the same time! He gave us a document and said that we would have to fill it out on her behalf and when we go to our proper department’s prefecture we will have to turn it in and explain to them the situation. He was confident that she would receive her legal status a couple of weeks later. I hope he’s right cuz I have no faith in it.

Stuff like this is why the French always roll their eyes when you mention anything you’ve had to do involving the French administration. The eye rolling along with the, “Ooh La La” really makes you confident doesn’t it?

Well, that was my big wasted morning/early afternoon. I could have busted out a few clean neighbors’ bathrooms in the time I spent there. At least I would have felt that I had done something worth my time.

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