Monday, February 11, 2019

The Elusive Carte de Sejour

When moving from America to France, you have to get a visa. Of course, you can always fly to France and stay for three months without a visa, but we wanted to move there legally. So in November 2017, we went to Chicago to request a visa and then when we arrived in France in January 2018, we had three months to get our carte de sejour sticker in our passports.
Because our permanent address was in Aix en Provence, we had to go to Marseille to get our carte de sejour. It was quite an adventure, and Earl's a few weeks later was even more of a challenge, but we persevered.
This year, we once again needed to renew our carte de sejour to live in France for another year. This time, with our address in Quillan, we needed to go to Carcassonne, to the prefecture, which is the government office that handles paperwork like driver's licenses and visas.
We made our appointment for February 7 since we were going home for the holidays, and our friends Jules and Jack had an appointment on the same day.
Each of us was scheduled to have a 20 minute appointment.
We carefully made copies of all of our documents and transferred them into French, paying an official translator.
We needed
the form filled out
Copies of our passports
Copies of our visa stamp from the previous year
Copies of our birth certificate and marriage certificates
Letters promising that we wouldn't work while in France.
A rental agreement or utility bill to prove where we lived
Something to show we had enough money to live in France throughout the year
269 euros worth of fiscal stamps, which is the cost of our visa
The day we were supposed to be worrying about our fiscal stamps, we just went out for wine. 
Clutching our forms, we went through the metal detector and into the prefecture. We told them we had an appointment and they gave us a ticket with our number. Jules and Jack had already gone into the prefecture while we parked the car because their appointment was first.
We'd barely sat down when Jules appeared in the doorway and waved us back. I was afraid she needed help understanding something in French, but she just wanted to see if we had the wrong number on our form. We didn't, but the polite French woman handling the paperwork was almost finished with them and she started on us after about 15 minutes with them.
By 9:30, we all had our temporary carte de sejour and were told that we receive a text message in about a month to come pick up our cards. This year, instead of a stamp in our visa, we have separate cards that we'll have to carry with us.
Our appointments began at 9 and were supposed to stretch until 10:20. Instead, the woman whizzed through all the forms and we stumbled into the bright sun of Carcassonne, free to enjoy breakfast in the square. We all laughed like school children with early dismissal.
This isn't in Carcassonne, but Earl's expression captures our feelings when we got our carte de sejour. 
Cafe creme and tartine with strawberry jam in the sunshine, followed by a toast with our coffee cups.
Then that night, we went out for a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant.
Dinner at La Chaumiere
My starter, artichoke salad with black olives and feta chesse. Yum. 

My main course, veal with a potatoes au gratin serving. 

Jules looking beautiful with her duck gizzard salad

And we even got to celebrate my birthday early since we will be in Italy for my birthday at the end of the month. 
We could legally live in France for another year. More adventures to come. 


sillygirl said...

Sometimes things do go right! Your "adventure" lightened my heart - balances out the third snow storm we had last night with more to come this week. If I remember all your travails getting to the place you are now I can endure.

Emma at Words And Peace / France Book Tours said...

What, only 30 minutes for all this? And they didn't even have you come back, finding an obscure form you forgot to bring? There's definitely something wrong going on in France! lol
So happy for you though

Just Me said...

Cheers !

Paulita said...

Sillygirl, You're right. This was much easier, and maybe I'm on a trajectory for things to get progressively easier in France.
Emma, Totally bucked tradition and the stories I've seen on the British facebook group. What horror stories they tell.
Just Me, Thanks.

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