Rule Number 1 if you are dealing with the French Bureaucracy: Never have all of the required papers.
Rule Number 1 if you are a French Bureaucrat: Always ask for one more document.
Regardless of how complete the dossier presented, one more 'something' could make it perfect… regardless of how unnecessary, superfluous or redundant.
Bonus points are awarded if it's particularly challenging.
If one has no photos, 2 passport-size color photos are needed.
If one presents 2 photos, 3 are now required.
If one doesn't present last year's tax return, it's needed.
If one does present last year's tax return, the underlying documentation is now required.
The trick is to present an apparently, well-organized, complete folder while at the same time leaving out something that is easy to produce.
Never volunteer anything just because you think it might be helpful. You could be giving up the very document that was going to be requested…. greatly inconveniencing the bureaucrat who must now think of something else.
And do not, whatever you do, produce the requested document on the spot. Again, this will merely cause something else to be required.
You absolutely must leave and come back another day.
And do try to look properly put-upon – whilst smiling wanly and wishing the person a 'nice day'.
Anyone like to venture a guess as to what I did today?
I have to add: none of this is meant to be taken personally, or, even too seriously. It's just the way things are done… the way the game is played.
It's also why, if you are caught without proper documentation, say the wrong car papers during a spot inspection, all you have to do is say it's 'en cours' – in process. You will immediately receive an understanding nod. (You had better be right, though; the nice Gendarme will understand, but he may also verify)
Now that we have our Carte de Sejour, and are legal residents of this department, we can get the rest of the little bits out of the way.
We went to the Sous Prefecture to change the address on our driving licenses and get new license plates for our car. We were sent away with 2 lists for the required documents (copies of papers, photos, etc.).
We went to the health insurance office to change our address – which also involves changing departments. This was our second visit. We had already received the list of required documents, so we had our dossier prepared. Now we just have to get the new papers organized. My mistake in making it too complete…. I know better….
Remember that we already have a properly registered car, current driving licenses and are covered under the health system.
This is just because we moved from the Vendée to the Lot et Garonne.
Apparently, like some of the expats we knew in Andorra, they don't speak….
The bright spot in the day? We went into the Mairie to ask where we needed to go to get all this accomplished. As the receptionist starting giving me directions, a man interrupted and said, as he was going in that direction, he'd just walk with us. 10 minutes later we were dropped off at the door of the Sous Prefecture, with the other offices pointed out along the way.
The dichotomy always fascinates me: the challenge of getting something done with the person behind the desk, and how incredibly helpful the same person can be when they step out from behind it.
After all that walking in the cold, windy sunshine I thought a bit of comfort food might be in order.
Cauliflower and Gruyère Soup
1/3 head of cauliflower, about 2 cups small florets
1 small – medium onion
2 ribs celery
1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (Start out with 1 1/2 cups, after pureeing and adding milk you can add more if you want it thinner)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup (2 oz, 60gr) shredded Gruyère
1/2 cup (4oz, 125ml) milk or cream
1 tbs butter
2 tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp paprika
Chop onion and celery. Cut cauliflower into small florets (leaving small 'stems'). Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add celery and onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cauliflower, 1 1/2 cups of broth and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is tender, 20 – 25 minutes. Purée soup in a blender or using an immersion blender. Return soup to heat, add milk or cream and bring to a simmer. Add more chicken broth if desired. Taste and add salt & pepper if needed. Reduce heat and add cheese, whisking to combine. Do not let it boil or the cheese may separate. Add more hot broth if needed. Ladle into soup plates, sprinkle fresh Parmesan, paprika evenly over the top and serve.
In addition to the above, for the week of March 6 we have Eggs Pipérade, Seafood Risotto, Lamb Chops Persillade, Pasta with Bacon and Leeks, Parmesan Oven Crisps….
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