Changement de Domicile

By   June 17, 2009

I’ve spent the past 5 days trying to figure out how/when/where to change my address for all the official things. I’m still not finished.

There is a free site that allows you to change your address for a lot of organizations, such as CAF, Pôle emploi, CPAM, EDF, Centre des Impôts, etc.  You can also do réexpédition du courrier through La Poste at the same time (starts at 23 € for 6 months.)

However, you still need to change your address on your carte de séjour within 8 days of moving and on your carte grise within one month of moving. I know you can be fined if you don’t change the carte grise, but I’m not sure what happens with regards to the CDS. And like I said in my previous post, if you move within the same département, they simply put a sticker on your current CDS; but if you change départements, you have to re-apply for a whole new CDS. Luckily, changing your address on your driver’s license, national ID or passport (if you’re French for the last two) are not actually required by law.

I’ve also got to change my address with my mutuelle and MGEN since I’m not affiliated with CPAM, which fortunately I can do through e-mail. But for my bank it’s a little more complicated. I actually have to go to my agence in Annecy with a justificatif de domicile – can’t do it online, of course. I could just change my agence to one here in Chambéry, but then that would require sending out new RIBs to all the places that do automatic prélèvements and that seems like too much of a hassle.

Then once I get my new carte grise with a new license plate number, I can update my car insurance info with the new address too. For anyone else moving to a new département or buying a used car in 2009, do it after October 15 or you’ll still be stuck with the old license plate.  Only new cars get the new license plate so far. It was originally supposed to take effect on June 15, which would have been perfect timing for me, but then they decided to push the date back. Oh well, it’s possible we’ll be moving again in summer 2010 anyway…

Carte de Séjour Vie Privée et Familiale: Chambéry Version

By   June 16, 2009

Even though I just renewed my CDS at the end of March in Annecy, since we moved to a new département, I had to apply for a whole new card instead of simply changing my address on it. The last time I moved, I stayed within the same département, so they just put a sticker on the back of my card. I waited in line for over an hour at the préfecture in Chambéry yesterday to find out that I needed to bring in all of the documents I had just given to the Annecy préfecture 3 months ago.

Here’s Chambéry’s list of required documents for the VPF card due to PACSing:

  • Copy of current CDS (if renewing); entry visa; and passport, but not just the photo page – every single page that has a stamp or visa on it
  • Copy of ID card of partner
  • 4 ID photos
  • Birth certificate (but it’s not specified if it needs to be less than 3 months old – mine sure wasn’t! Nor is it specified that a translation in French is required)
  • Justificatif de domicile (facture EDF, eau, ou quittance de loyer)
  • Justificatif des ressources (tax returns and/or bulletins de paies)
  • Certificat de PACS (again, not specified it if needs to be less than 3 months old; I also gave a copy of the actual contract just to be thorough)
  • Attestation sur l’honneur de communauté de vie (provided by préfecture, but your partner must be there to sign it with you)

Today was David’s last day off before he starts work, so I wanted to get to the prefecture first thing this morning and hand over all the papers. I was a little worried about the birth certificate situation since it’s from 2006 and the translation was just a copy of the translation I had done in 2006 as well. But the lady didn’t even bother checking the dates. And luckily the certificat de PACS that I got in March was still within the usual “less than 3 month old” requirement (by one day!), so I lucked out on that one too.

And then the lady completely forgot about the attestation for the communauté de vie, so I had to remind her that David & I both needed to sign it to complete my dossier. I love having to tell fonctionnaires how to do their job.

I will be convoqué later on to go back and pick up my récépissé since apparently Chambéry does not print them right away for you like Annecy does. But of course, I got to keep my current CDS anyway, so it’s not like I really need it for anything.

One task accomplished so far. Only about 47 more to go.

Moving was the easy part.

By   June 14, 2009

Settling in is the hard part. I am very anxious to just feel at home in the new place, but it’s difficult without furniture in certain rooms. But because it’s Sunday, almost all stores are closed and I can’t accomplish much.

I’m going crazy with the lack of, well, everything in the kitchen because it was basically a sink in the corner with a closet that’s already half full from the water heater. And one electrical outlet. ONE! The weird thing is, we are not allowed to drill or nail holes in any walls, so that means no pictures or shelves anywhere in the entire apartment. At least the living room and bedroom have a little color on the walls, but the kitchen is just plain white. So I’ve also been going crazy buying adhesive and suction-cup hooks to hang things up and add a little color. Thank goodness Gifi is open on Sundays.

Hopefully we’ll get all the furniture within the next 2 days before David starts work, but we have a ton of things to do. I forgot how much of a pain it is changing your address in France. I need to go to my bank first to see if I need to change my agency too, and then the prefecture to get a new registration and license plate number (since I changed départements) and to change the address on my carte de séjour which I’m sure will be a super official handwritten label like last time. We’re also in the middle of changing our mutuelle to a much better and cheaper one (fonctionnaires are so spoiled, I tell ya).

And then we have to go back to the rental agency and figure out why we still do not have the keys to the garage we supposedly rented for my car. Luckily we haven’t paid for it yet since the agency couldn’t find the right keys (I’m not even kidding), but it’s just another stupid thing we have to deal with. And we’re thinking about getting Canaille de-clawed so that he can’t mess up the wallpaper here. He’s getting more and more comfortable here, and even though he hasn’t scratched anything yet, we’d like to keep it that way. We certainly won’t be able to fix this wallpaper like at the old place because it’s ALL covered in paint for some strange reason (and there’s painted wallpaper on the ceilings in some rooms too!)

But I’ve got to say, having balconies is a must and I will never live in an apartment again without one. My clothes dry so quickly because I can put the drying rack in the sun, I constantly smell the flowers from the neighbors’ balconies, and the breeze is so nice at night that we don’t need a fan. And there’s even a little canal that runs along the main road so I can hear the water trickling by all the time. Someone else really likes the balconies already too. Now if only that bird’s nest were more than 5 feet away so he doesn’t get too courageous and jump…

The Beauty of Istanbul

By   June 14, 2009

Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia)

Blue Mosque

Basilica Cistern

Istiklal Caddesi when it’s not busy

Shopping on Istiklal

Grand Bazaar

Spice Market

New Mosque across the Bosphorous

Galata Tower

Random adorable cat # 2,547

French Quarter

Çay (Tea)

Hope to see you again someday, Turkey!

Istanbul in one word: AMAZING

By   June 12, 2009

Istanbul was the most beautiful, interesting, amazing place I have ever been. I loved the mixture of old and new and east and west. It is very European in some ways, and not so European in other ways. Trying to figure out Turkish was slightly exhausting as it’s not an Indo-European language, but now I am really intrigued about the history of the culture and language. And that is exactly why I feel the need to travel so much.

I will post pictures soon, but I really need to lie down because after a tram, a subway, two planes, and a train, I feel like throwing up again…

So my traveling is almost over for the summer. I am happy to be home and getting settled in the new apartment, though of course I am also really happy that I was able to travel so much these past few weeks and see wonderful friends that I miss.

My next trip is back to the US in July for my sister’s wedding. My first summer in Michigan in 3 years!

Thoughts on: Trip, Apartment, and Conference

By   June 5, 2009

Trip: Of course my trip was amazing. We saw so many places and I took far too many photos. The weather was mostly hot and sunny and we didn’t have any major traveling problems. I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of all the wonderful sites France has to offer, and I’m dying to see more of this country. Spending time with Michelle & Jason was a blessing as well. I’m glad they got to see three regions of France and hope they come back someday.  Meeting up with David in Montpellier was a nice treat, as I obviously don’t like being apart from him. I won’t have time to get all of the photos on my website until after my Istanbul trip to visit Martha, for which I leave at 7 AM tomorrow morning!

Going back to Italy after 10 years was long overdue considering how close it is. Chambery to Milan is only 4 hours by train, and it should be shorter than that within a year when the high-speed track between Turin and Milan is finished. I still can’t understand much of Italian, but I was able to remember the basic words and phrases to buy things, like gelato and more gelato.

The Côte d’Azur was full of beaches and tourists, which I expected. I’m glad I finally went there, but I don’t think I’d like to live there. Monaco and Cannes were very crowded because of the Grand Prix and Film Festival, but Antibes was much quieter. Provence was lovely, as usual, and very very hot. But I love the heat, so it didn’t bother me. Especially because we were staying at a rather nice hotel just outside of Aix-en-Provence (Kyriad Mas des Oliviers) that had air-conditioning, unlike our “hotel” that was really a hostel in Nice.

Languedoc didn’t seem as hot, but maybe it was just the wind, which was strong almost everywhere! There were a few times I had trouble walking because of it. Montpellier was incredibly nice, just as I had imagined, and I really liked Nîmes too. Pont du Gard was impressive, Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer was cute, and La Grande Motte was a bit strange because of the architecture that I have never before seen in France. I loved walking through the cité médiévale in Carcassonne – I just wish it hadn’t been so cold so we could have stayed and enjoyed it more.

The only thing I didn’t like was the car we rented. It was a Citroën C3 Sensodrive that can be driven as an automatic or manual. Except the automatic mode was scary to me because I’m not used to the car rolling backwards when I’m stopped, or the car turning off when I’m stopped (Eco function), or the fact that shifting into reverse did not work sometimes! What are you supposed to do when you’re stopped on a hill and need to back up so you don’t hit a parked car in front of you, but reverse doesn’t work???

Apartment: Even though I left from our apartment in Annecy in May, I came back to the new apartment in Chambéry with Jason. We’ve tried to put things away as much as possible, but there is still a serious lack of storage/shelves/drawers in the kitchen. It almost feels like home to me though, if only David and Canaille were here and we had all the furniture we needed. Being able to walk downtown within 10 minutes is convenient, and I can run most of my errands without needing a car. Living in the city has its advantages, I must admit, but one day I’d like to be back out in the countryside.

We’ve only got one bedroom, but the living room is large, and the entire apartment has been repainted. We’re currently having a problem with the water heater (auto doesn’t work), so I have to turn it to on at night and off in the morning. There are two balconies, one on each side of the building, that look out onto the main road and the parking lot behind it. We have a nice cross breeze through the living room and kitchen if we open both balcony doors. I figured out where the cave was, and it is quite possibly the creepiest, most dungeon-like storage space I’ve ever seen. We still don’t have the keys to the garage we rented for my car, because the agency can’t get a hold of the landlord, who initially gave them the wrong keys or something, so my car is parked on the road for now.

Here’s the view of the Alps from the kitchen balcony:

The only thing I’m worried about is Canaille falling or jumping off the balconies. We’re only on the 2nd floor (3rd floor American), but I’m afraid he’d seriously hurt himself if he did fall. And there is a nest of birds in the tree right next to the front balcony. I’m hoping that since he is a such a scaredy-cat, he won’t actually step foot on the balconies, but we’ll see what happens next weekend when we bring him home.

Conference: The previous 3 days I worked at an International English Pronunciation Conference at my university, and got to sit it on many presentations since I was the tech person in charge of computers. It was exhausting, but fun and interesting. I was Miss Powerpoint the first day, making sure all of the presentations worked properly, which many didn’t… Then I had to be a subsitute chair for a presentation while also being the tech person, which of course was the ONE time there was a problem with the computer.

I had missed being in an academic setting, with professors and researchers talking about things that I am interested in (linguistics, phonetics, technology, etc.) I am still thinking about doing my PhD in France, but I have no clue where or in what subject. I just can’t imagine narrowing down my interests to one topic and researching it for 3 years. I want to learn everything about everything!

And I loved the three plenary speakers! John Wells talked about the polling carried out for the new edition of the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, and he also gave a presentation on using intonation to change meaning in English. (Also check out his Phonetics blog.) Helen Fraser spoke on Cognitive Phonology and its implications for teaching pronunciation, which I had never really thought about before.  Yvan Rose introduced the Phon software and PhonBank database and explained how they can benefit research on second language acquisition of phonology.

I also discovered a book edited by Marie-Jo Derive, who works at my university, that will be extremely useful to learners of French. It’s called Mots étranges pour des étrangers and it’s a corpus of idiomatic and slang expressions that foreign students learning French at the university had to learn the hard way (i.e. not understanding because no book ever taught them, and having to ask a native speaker to explain the meanings). Here’s the summary from the publisher’s site:

Il s’agit d’un recueil de mots étranges compilés par des apprenants de français. Tout le monde sait que, même lorsqu’on a atteint un haut degré de compétence, le plus difficile à maîtriser d’une langue est sa chair idiomatique nourrie de ces mille et une expressions intraduisibles et souvent éphémères de la communication parlée. L’apprenant ne les trouve que rarement dans les manuels et cet apprentissage doit se faire “sur le tas”. C’est cette pratique “de terrain” dont le volume se fait l’écho à partir de l’expérience de plus de cent étudiants étrangers sur six années consécutives. Plus qu’un simple dictionnaire, qui de toute façon est très vite caduc, l’idiomatique étant aussi changeant que la mode, il s’agit d’un témoignage qui, grâce aux commentaires des intéressés sur la façon dont ils ont entrevu le sens de l’expression en contexte, éclaire sur les processus de l’apprentissage en milieu naturel. Ainsi le livre sera utile aussi bien à l’étudiant étranger – non seulement comme source de référence, mais comme incitation à l’acquisition active du lexique – qu’à l’enseignant de FLE, en France et surtout hors de France. Il intéressera également le lexicologue qui y trouvera un portrait sur le vif du lexique des étudiants.

One trip down, one to go

By   May 31, 2009

I’m back in Chambéry! Almost 500 photos to sort through and upload, 3 days of work this week, and then Jason and I are off to Istanbul at 7 AM Saturday morning.

I love love love the south. Still want to move to Provence. Vacation was too short, as always.

Need to finish unpacking and cleaning. Can’t wait until Tuesday when stores will actually be open so I can buy badly-needed furniture!

Off to Milan, and then Southern France

By   May 18, 2009

Michelle and I leave tomorrow morning at 10:45am for Milan, and then we’re heading back to France via Nice, and then over to Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier (and all the cool villages in between). We just spent the past two days in Chambéry and Annecy wandering around the old towns and the lake. Today I found out we did get the apartment in Chambéry that we wanted, so it’s been a pretty good birthday overall, despite the getting older part.

So once again David has to move without me since I seem to have a knack for planning trips at the same time. Though my trips are always planned really far in advance, so it’s not like I’m trying to get out of helping with the move…  We do the walk-through and sign the lease tomorrow morning, and he’s moving the furniture this weekend. When I come back, I’ll be going straight to Chambery, which is convenient since I return around 10 PM and our new apartment is rather close to the train station.

I most likely won’t be able to get online while I’m gone, and depending on how long our new internet provider wants to take getting us connected, it could be a while before we’ll have internet at the new place. I have a feeling my e-mail’s going to be about three months behind instead of my usual two.

A plus tard !