Sunday, May 05, 2019

French Forms

The morning was punctuated by rain on one side and high wind on the other,
but the bridge, the river and the mountains persuaded me to go for a run anyway. 

Just when you think you're out of the French form business for another year, with both a driver's license and a carte de sejour tucked in my wallet, a minor accident and a car purchase send us back up to our necks in forms in French.
Truthfully, the forms aren't so bad, it's trying to figure out what to do with them. Can I take a picture and email them? Do I need to fax them (are there still fax machines)? Should they be mailed?
During the past month, since our departure from the apartment we thought we would be in all year,  we lived on a narrow street where cars insist on driving quickly. I was sitting at my computer by the window on the road, preparing for my class to start at noon when a car zoomed past and I heard a crunch. I just had a feeling.
I walked out of the house and saw something strange hanging off the front of the car. The headlight. Pretty sure it's not supposed to look like that.
A car was parking in front of our car, so I waited until the woman got out.
She was nice about it. She had cut too close as she tried to park.
I told her I had to get inside to teach so she gave me her name and number and said she would be back home, just down the street from me, at 6.
In between classes, I contacted a few French friends. I barely know what to do in an American accident, much less a French one.
One friend sent me a form to be filled out. It's an "amiable" form, which means both drivers agree on what happened.
But the woman didn't get home at 6 or 7 or... well, I quit watching for her and texted. We agreed to meet the next day at 4 at her place.
So she cordially offered me coffee, but I declined and we filled out the necessary forms. It was Friday afternoon. I had no idea what to do with the forms. She suggested I call our insurance company, which is also our bank. I tried but got stuck in the "Press 1 for xxx" and "press 2 for xxx." Speaking French to a person on the phone is hard enough. Figuring out what a machine says is even more difficult. I decided to head to the bank branch 30 minutes away on Monday.
Come Monday, I checked the hours and saw that the branch is closed Monday. I knew Wednesday was a holiday, so my only option was Tuesday.
The bank was open until 5:20 p.m. and my last class ended at 4. I would have time to drive half an hour before it closed.
Then I got there at 4:40 and saw that it was closing early (exceptionelle) at 4:50. I barely made it. The woman who helped me, after a 5-minute wait, had no idea what to do with the form. The bank does not have an insurance branch. She searched online. Then she went to her manager's office and he suggested they would send it for me. So whether it was mailed, emailed, faxed or simply struck in a drawer, I have no idea.
The car accident reminded me that I had never received my carte grise for the car. The carte grise is like the registration. Our friend who sold us the car did all the French paperwork online, but we never got the form.
I hopped online and claimed that it was lost, even though we had never received it. They asked for 99 euros, which I paid, and said they were processing the request. Then I got an email that listed about 10 documents I need to send in before I can get my carte grise.
It's all a little overwhelming. I need to print out the forms and mail them in.
Technically, it's illegal for us to drive the car without the carte grise, so we need to be super careful not to get pulled over before we receive the paperwork.
But, the good news is, that my husband has safely returned to France, so anything I'm dealing with now is not on my own.
The weather was so cold today, I feel like I might be in a Nordic country rather than the south of France, with temperature in the 30s (4 C) and high winds that endanger pedestrians from flying market umbrellas.
These fabrics are beautiful, but expensive. They said they were hand-loomed. 

No matter, we're still enjoying life.
As for our living arrangements, they become more nomadic by the week, so I promise an update soon.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

"Oh, the Places You'll Go!" as Dr. Seuss might say.
Yesterday I went on an 18-mile bike ride (that's 28 kilometers for those using metric measurements) with a French friend. It adds an element of skill to try to maintain a conversation in French along with riding up steep hills in the countryside. (She speaks excellent English so we only speak French to help me practice my language skills.)
The places we came across within a 10-miles radius of my adopted home. I had never been to the village of Montazels, but a climb up a fairly steep hill took me to the charming village. My friend pointed out a former chateau, but all I saw was a petanque pitch. Apparently, you can only see the chateau from below.
We stopped for a picturesque selfie.

That's the chateau behind us up on the hill and you can see mountains beyond in the split of the nearby mountains.
Next we coasted down the hill into Couiza where I caught a glimpse of another chateau I'd never seen. Duc de Joyeuse is a bed and breakfast now.

This isn't a great picture, but the sky sure is beautiful.
And in the other direction is the expected row of plane trees.
We saw so many gorgeous landscapes, but I couldn't stop all the time to take pictures.
I did get a shot of some poppies blooming. Yes, it's the beginning of poppy season here.

And this garden is very well maintained.
We stopped for coffee and pain au raisin, because what's the point of riding through the French countryside if you can't enjoy a pastry and coffee.
What a lovely morning exploring and enjoying life in France!

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...