Both of us have a Last Will and Testament on file back in the US where they were drawn up by an attorney familiar with those types of documents. They would be legal in France, although the practicality of executing them here might be challenging. For one thing, they are written in English and while we have copies with us that could be officially translated, they still might need authenticating back through the county clerk’s office where they are on file. To make things easier for one of us (or if we’re both gone, someone else entirely) in the future, we decided to visit a notaire and have him create a Testament for each of us. After all, we live in France and any assets that are left will be donated to a charity here in town so it just made sense, but where would we start?
When we were investigating making a permanent move to France we read a lot about the experiences of others and two themes emerged. Everyone seemed to agree that the French love their paperwork. We’d had an inkling of that when we saw that to apply for our initial 1-year visa we would need to supply at least a dozen different documents (that list is here) to prove that we would be able to financially support ourselves during the validity of the visa. That process, with the paperwork, was repeated here as well each time we went in to renew our visa/residence card. It still makes me laugh to remember apologizing to our bank counselor for not speaking very good French when we opened our bank account. She looked at the pile of documents we had brought in for that application process and said with a grin while pointing to the stack, “Au contraire, you speak very good French!” We had our own experience recently at the hospital regarding that second theme: patience.
Now that we’ve lived in France in a “habitual and continuous manner for five years” it’s possible to apply for citizenship. That time requirement can vary, for example, if you got your university degree here, or have a French sibling, spouse, or parent/grandparent/great grandparent but in my case it will be a Demande de naturalisation par décret (Request for naturalization by decree). That just means that I have to be integrated into the community, have a sufficient knowledge of the language, history, culture and society, as well as the rights and duties conferred by French nationality and adhere to the principles and values of the Republic. Whew, sounds like a tall order so I’d better get started!
Although today’s blog post title sounds like a prison sentence it’s far from it; in fact, just the opposite. It refers to the ability to apply for a 10-year residence card after having lived in France for five years. We reached that milestone at the end of February and now we are holders of a Carte de résident de longue durée-UE or something similar in the US might be called a “green card”. Our French one is blue but no less significant. Previously we needed to renew our card annually to stay here legally but now we’re set for the next decade. So besides not having to pay a renewal fee of 269 € every year, what are the other advantages?
In the 2008 movie Mamma Mia!, hotel owner Donna Sheridan comments that her soon-to-be son-in-law will be publicizing her Villa Donna to the world by putting her “on the line.” She claims to be current with the new technology of “the Internets” wondering why no one has invented a machine that makes the beds. We had a similar thought recently regarding those “Internets” when we had to have several documents notarized for use back in the US. Given that a notarial act must generally be conducted within the state where the notary holds a commission, it was going to be a challenge with the Atlantic ocean between us and travel heavily restricted. Time for an “on the line” search for a solution.
And we were doing so well. Long before we had any plans of living in France we were watching French movies with the English subtitles turned on so that we could understand what was being said. That was a compromise since the real reason we were renting these films was for the scenery, be it the Eiffel Tower, Medieval castles, or fields of lavender in full bloom; all were really just inspiration for our next vacation. It’s a challenge, however, to read the dialog and try to take in all of the beautiful landscapes sharing the same screen. Then we moved here with access to 100 TV channels broadcast in French with only a few offering some programs subtitled in English but all having the option of displaying the spoken text on the screen for the deaf or hard of hearing. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em so that became our next step in comprehending what was going on. At least we could match up the words we were hearing with those across the bottom of the screen.Continue reading “Read my lips”
To live in France full-time for our initial year here, our first step was obtaining a visa from the French consulate in Miami. Once we arrived in Carcassonne we then had to make an appointment with the Immigration Office in Montpellier for a medical checkup that would qualify us to stay here legally for the duration of that one-year visa. Three months before that expired we visited our local Préfecture (think, Federal Building, in US terms) to arrange for a time to drop off copies of our financial statements, utility bills and a few other documents to prove that we actually lived here and had the resources to support ourselves. A one-year carte de séjour (residency card) has annually been the result. We’ve been repeating that process each winter since our arrival in February 2016 and you can read about that in our blog post Fort-unate that includes a link to the post from the prior year. This week we obtained our newest carte de séjour with only a few minor changes from the previous experiences. Continue reading “Renewed”