Friday, January 03, 2020

The Elusive Carte Grise

Maybe it isn't something we think about, but the places we live change us.
Living in France for the past two years has changed us -- at least according to our oldest son.
"Look, you guys need to be a little more decisive!" he told us at lunch last week. He claims that since we moved to France we're more laissez faire -- we make plans that can easily morph into other plans.
We just laughed at his assessment, but I do hope that it's true, that we're becoming more laid back about plans and schedules and time -- French time, our friends joke when we show up late.
Maybe it's the lack of jobs to go to, or the fact that our house is paid for without a monthly mortgage payment, or the number of friends we socialize with, but life does feel easier in France.
It's a good place to go to avoid stress.
Relaxing with friends
Only one thing about our France life is causing me stress -- it's a carte grise for our car, basically a registration and title. We bought the car in January 2019, and due to circumstances, bad luck and bad management on my part, we still don't have a legal carte grise. Luckily, we haven't been stopped, although we have received a ticket in the mail for speeding.
Right after we bought the car, I had to come back to the States for about six weeks. We had rented an apartment for the year, but it didn't work out because the wifi wasn't good, so we moved from place to place when I returned to France. Then Earl went to the States and I stayed alone, working. We came back to the States for the summer because we had no place to live; we bought a house; we returned to France and started a renovation of the house. Things were hectic for a place we chose because it's relaxing.
Since June, I have been working with a company called LegalPlace, which collects the documents and then gets the carte grise.
I thought we were close when we left in June. I had sent all the documents. The company said it needed a copy of our controle technique, which is basically an inspection of the vehicle.
I sent a photo of the sticker in our front window which said we had our contrôle technique, but they needed to see the entire report.
We were in the States and we asked our friends to search through the paperwork in our car. They couldn't find it. We told LegalPlace that we'd get it when we returned to France in September. When we still couldn't find it, our friend Maurice went to the inspector who issued the contrôle technique and sent us a copy.
I quickly shipped that to Legal Place in September, but guess what? The contrôle technique has to be within six months. We bought the car in January so the paperwork was nine months old. We would have to get a new inspection.
I made an appointment with a man in Quillan, it was just a week before we were leaving for the States. He declared the car in good shape except for one problem.
In April, someone had hit the car while it was parked. It knocked the headlight out. With the help of a random man passing, I had put the headlight back, it worked, and I continued to drive the car. But the unattached headlight was a problem for the contrôle technique.
Poor car with missing headlight
I didn't really understand how the insurance worked and after a few attempts to contact our insurance company, I had let the accident damage fall to the wayside in the face of everything else we were juggling. In my defense, I took the accident report to our insurance company/bank in Limoux, half an hour away. They said they didn't have an insurance branch there but they would fax it to the proper branch. We didn't hear from them. Then in June, before we returned to the States, we called and spoke in my best telephone French (which is really hard) to make a report. I got an email from them and tried to reply with the accident report but it bounced back. So I let it slide. The car is already dinged up from numerous car doors in French parking lots.
But when our car didn't pass the contrôle technique because of the headlight, you should have seen the look of judgment on Earl's face. He had been pressing me to get the accident damage fixed. And, it's my responsibility because I speak French and it was my idea to move to France.
With the failed contrôle technique, we had two choices, pursue the insurance claim or fix the headlight.
My friend Derrick helped dampen the anger and the expectation, explaining that even if it was someone else's fault, we might end up paying a lot to have the headlight and dent fixed. Earl ordered a new headlight and replaced it himself.
We returned to the contrôle technique mechanic and got the stamp of approval a day before our quick departure, rushed by the ensuing train strikes. I sent the contrôle technique off to LegalPlace, along with a note saying, by the way, we have a new address -- since we bought our house in August. That, of course, required even more paperwork.
And, this seems very sketchy, we had to send off our old carte grise -- physically mail it -- to them.  Of course, I'm in the States and relying on friends to take care of all this paperwork (thanks, friends).
Just this morning, I received probably the 50th email from LegalPlace informing me what documents are manquant (missing).
I sent pictures of the documents, and I wait ever patiently for the carte grise, but I'm making tentative plans to roll the car into a river and start over if we can't get it.


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Paulita. I think it is more to do with the fact that you are free of mortgage and jobs. You are free to do what you would like to do. You were so used to living a tight schedule or at least a schedule. If I was living in France with money to live in, I would be stress free too. You might change living in a different country but I havent changed since moving north. Talking about decisions though. I have to make my own. And i find that very tough. Take care and just enjoy France.

Kiwi said...

That last sentence certainly made me laugh out loud. Now, what about French driving licenses? The mind reels....

Just Me said...

Since you have more than your share of logistical nightmares I'm happy to hear you can relax about other matters.

Paulita said...

Anne, I know that we are so fortunate to be able to choose this life. When you're in a relationship and have to share decisions, sometimes it seems difficult because you have to compromise, but I'm sure it's even harder on your own. You've done amazing things. You're an inspiration.
Kiwi, Maybe I wasn't serious, but this blog post will disappear if I follow through on it.
Just Me, Yes, perhaps my indecisiveness makes the logistical matters worse.

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