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October Wallpaper

After a little reminder from Kasia, here is the October wallpaper!

This photo was taken on my walk home after class the other day. It was a good reminder about how much France rocks, and it came at the right time. I had had a bad class day that I will post about later, and I just felt exhausted about all this trying to apply for my Carte de Séjour thing.

We’re not stupid people. We started out at the OFII – the office for immigration, kind of. There, the nice man pointed us to the nearest police station, where foreigners register for their Cartes de Séjour. We walked to the police station, and the nice security guard said that the station wasn’t it, but the station right across the river was. Fine, we walked across the river, went through security at the most massive complex of a police station, and the nice lady behind the counter said no, she wasn’t it either. However, she produced a document that had an address for where I should go, along with my “case” example described (EU spouse, no visa currently except tourist stamp thing in passport). She said we just had to go there, show our passports, and our marriage certificate.

That marriage certificate best be in French, she added. Then she showed us a list of certified court translators who can translate the document for us.

Not wanting to pay the fees, we went to the Canadian Embassy to see if they could help by attesting our marriage. It really should not have been a problem: two Canadians, showing up with a marriage certificate that is universally recognized in Canada without additional documentation or registration. Nope, since the document wasn’t produced by a Canadian government institution, they didn’t want anything to do with us. Even though there’s nothing Canadian that would replace this document, and yes, we did mention that Canada would recognize and use this document for all marriage-certifying-related-incidents.

So we had to call up a translator down the street, give him the piece of paper for a week, to translate for €50. BAH.

We picked up the translation last week, went to the Carte de Séjour office as given to us by the nice lady behind the counter.

We checked in through yet another security station at yet another police station, and when it came our turn and we presented “all that we needed”, along with extras I had brought for reinforcement (rent contract, school papers, etc.), the super-fast-French-speaking woman rebutted with a FOUR PAGE DOCUMENT with lists of things I should have. ALL ORIGINAL copies.

Among this list: my birth certificate, our apartment insurance documents, proof that we have money to live in France.

Let me just pause and ask the readers of this blog – who keeps their original birth certificate when they travel?! Double-ew-tee-eff. I explained in anxiety-laden-barely-comprehensible French that our insurance was purchased through the internet so the “original” is this printout, as far as I can tell, and it works for all other purposes. No…apparently I have to track down this company in the middle of nowhere in France and get them to send me an “original”.

By then I was shocked out of my wits that I couldn’t piece together another sentence if I wanted. Alex read the list front and back many times with his brows furrowed, but we just couldn’t make any more sense out of it.

I brought this four-page-long document/list of things I need to school, to ask the people who are there to “help” you get this elusive Carte. I had two nice, but not helpful, ladies basically repeat the list back to me in English. Thanks, Google did that for me already.

Our bank in Canada wrote us a letter, printed off all of the past 6 months of transactions for us in all of our accounts, to “prove our resources” to live in France.

So armed with more preparation, we lined up again at the same police station today to validate that the documents we’ve acquired are sufficient and correct, and we can soon begin the process just as soon as we acquire some original documents in the mail (but in the mean time let us know if these printouts are even correct).

It was incredibly busy at the police station, and we had to stand in line outside to wait for the employees to have their afternoon break (between 1-2pm). Then as soon as the doors opened, we got trampled by some immigrants to whom queues mean absolutely sh*t all. Seriously, a broad wheeled her Stokke stroller right over my foot to get to the front of line…she came all the way from the back of the line.

We waited for quite a bit inside too, and finally when it came our turn we had the same bored super-fast-French-speaking lady again, even though I had kept my fingers crossed for the nice smiling blond lady in the Accueil section. I greeted this lady with a big smile, reminded her that I was here last week, and would now like some help to verify that I have everything right.

She began by harassing me about my birth certificate, which I most definitely still don’t have, and am holding out on a little bit. Seriously, the document is in Chinese, and the translation for my name could be anything, since there’s no relationship between my Chinese and English names. It could very well be the phoniest document I present to them, yet they still persist on getting it even though I tried to stress that there’s nothing of interest to them.

Fine. Moving on…the rent contract to prove our address. She flips through it, sees where I signed it back in April, and pushes it back at me with a “Non”.

Why not? Because it was signed in April…it means I might’ve already been here too long (i.e. over 2 months) that I am no longer eligible for the Carte.







Next up, document proving resources. We present proudly our life savings listed in the last 6 months of activity, along with a French letter stating our bank accounts’ balances, furnished by our Canadian bank.

Non. Your resources have to be in France.



We left, grumpier than ever, and more determined than ever to get this right. I cannot believe I am about to reunite with my birth certificate, and then meet it again in French. I’m not even sure why I am persisting on this Carte. It might be cheaper to take off every few days to different non-Schengen countries for short vacations than going down this path of craptastic days.


In the mean time, enjoy the pretty picture.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Kasia Monday 3 October 2011, 21:14

    OMG, Sandy, just reading this post made me want to swear. I thought this type of bureaucracy only existed in post-communist Europe.

    I’d give up on the carte just to spite the French and escape France every few weeks if I were you. If you want to go to Poland, my parents would be happy to put you up for as long as you want!

    PS – Thanks for the pretty wallpaper! (Seriously, its one of the only things I look forward to at the beginning of every month).

  • BrendaBall Monday 3 October 2011, 21:49

    vive la France! vive la bureaucracie! Yes, this made me cringe too. This is WORSE than when I lived in the Czech Republic and had to smuggle myself OUT of the country for the exact same reasons. I think your reasoning is sound – dash off to non-Schengen countries for mini vacations as you will probably leave France before said paperwork is ever complete.
    And one more thing: don’t live by Canadian rules when in France. Barge your way to the front of the line like your cohorts :-)
    I feel your pain….

  • Jessica's Dinner Party Tuesday 4 October 2011, 00:25

    Oh gosh! Don’t get me started on French bureaucracy and paperwork. Seriously THE WORST! Your experience sounds just about right, very French and illogical. Sorry I don’t have better words of encouragement! But somehow it all ends up working out..usually.

  • mango Tuesday 4 October 2011, 18:24

    Thanks ladies for hearing me out on this. Because I’m such a goody two shoes, I am following the rules trying to get this paperwork sorted. Here’s to many grey hairs and dead brain cells from all this kerfuffle. Sigh.

  • Rishi Thursday 20 October 2011, 16:17

    I feel sorry for you guys… It’s just France being stupid and earning their reputation around the world. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone going through so much trouble for something like this :S good luck!

    • mango Tuesday 25 October 2011, 10:50

      Thanks. We figured out a trick: get someone else instead of mean lady to process paperwork. A dude looked at my papers the third time and we got everything done!

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