Like many of our neighbors, we’ve gone paperless. One of the first things that you have to do to establish yourself in France is to open a bank account. Shortly after that your mailbox will contain notices, sometimes several days in a row, from your new bank to welcome you, to confirm the details that you’ve provided, to inform you of the appropriate government regulations, to let you know that a fee will soon be charged to your account and then another after it has been taken. In other words, you are kept very well informed, including a notice on how to receive all of that information as emails. Luckily that option also exists for the various utility companies, grocery stores, and pretty much any other place that we shop. Of course that means that all of those tempting catalogs no longer arrive at our house but when you have a determined shopper around, nothing stands in his way.
When we lived in the US and had a 4000 square foot (370 square meter) house to fill, first by finishing the basement level and then by furnishing all 3 floors, it took lots of trips to home centers for building materials, furniture stores to fill the new spaces, and looking online to complete the job. Bill became an expert at all three. His skills came in very handy once we moved here and most recently with outfitting the kitchen. It’s not unusual in France, when someone moves out of the home they’ve sold or even an apartment they’ve rented to take everything with them. I started to write “to take everything not tied down with them” but that rule doesn’t apply here where bare lightbulbs are left dangling in places that fixtures once hung and even the kitchen sink might be gone too.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the bed that we’d ordered getting delivered in a box and then the task of putting it all together. We’ll be doing the same with these kitchen cabinets but first we have to disassemble the existing ones and dispose of them, which presents its own challenge for those of us still learning the language. The city offers free curbside pickup of large items like sofas, beds, and appliances with one simple phone call…in French. There’s even an online brochure describing the whole process but it doesn’t include our favorite way to ask questions, a dedicated website; simply the web address for city hall. Looks like we’ll be making a personal visit where relatively correct French combined with a bit of sign language and facial expressions, one of which is a big smile, always seems to work.