I do not miss Michigan (this week).

By   April 7, 2009

It’s been rather nice here lately. Mid 60’s and sunny. I even took off my coat and lied down outside on the grass today during my break. I have missed the sun so much!  And the sun doesn’t even set until 8:30pm these days!

In contrast, my parents have like 5 inches of snow on the ground. In April.

I love that even though the most southern point of France is at the same latitude as Detroit, the weather is much less cold and extreme here than it is in Michigan. Thank you Atlantic Ocean for your warm currents. This frileuse appreciates it!

Needless to say, I’m feeling good this week.  I’m sure the weather, spring vacation, and the Dominican Republic all have something to do with it. But I’m also happy for the new English assistants who just received their acceptance e-mails. (Almost a month earlier than last year – way to go embassy!)  It reminds me of when I received my acceptance letter and was so excited all summer long before coming to France.

And my excruciatingly long, 12 hour Tuesdays are finally finished! I had a crappy schedule this semester, but the morning labs have finished already, so no more wasting time and nearly falling asleep between classes. One more day of work before spring vacation, and then afterwards, only three more days of work before I finish on April 27 and have all summer off (until mid-September!)  And it’s paid vacation, of course.

Tentative Travel Schedule

By   April 4, 2009

I’m trying not to go crazy with stress about David’s job placement but I am seriously scared that someone else is going to want Chambéry and David will end up in Caen or Nantes or Paris (no offense to anyone who lives in those cities – it’s just that they are really far from my work!) And then we’d have to find two apartments and live apart until May 2010. ::sigh::

I know there is no use worrying now since I can’t do anything about it. But Toulouse was just replaced with Saint-Denis (yes, Saint-Denis in LA REUNION) on the liste définitive, which leaves only Digne-les-bains, Chambéry and Lyon in the southern half of France. All the rest are in the northern half. Usually, the candidats choose the city that is closest to their current domicile so that they won’t be too far away from their family. This is actually why Saint-Denis was added to the list. But what if someone from mainland France actually wants to go there and that person in La Réunion must then come to France??

I know for a fact that someone ranked higher than David who lives in Ardennes wants to move to the south where there’s sun, so he’s going for Digne first and Chambéry second. And if one other person wants to move to the “south” s/he will choose Chambéry (which isn’t actually the south and there’s not much sun there anyway) because geographically, it is furthest south after Digne. Lyon is most likely out too, since there’s a candidat who lives in Lyon who is also higher than David on the list. I know I’m over-thinking this and should just stop, but I can’t.

I’ve tried to keep my mind occupied with my trips this spring and summer, but they are starting to stress me out too. I’m worried about the Dominican Republic in an extremely irrational fit of paranoia because of what happened to Céline et Sarah. And the others are hard to plan because I don’t know where I’ll be living in a month, so it’s a bit difficult to buy train and plane tickets when I don’t know my city of departure!

April 15-20: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic [brother’s wedding at Riu Palace Macao]

May 18-30: Milan, Lake Como, Genoa, Nice, Monaco, Cannes, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, Nîmes, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Carcassone, Toulouse, Cerbère [train & road trip with Michelle & Jason]

June 7-15: Istanbul, Turkey [with Jason to see Martha]

July 20-August 9: Michigan, Virginia [sister’s wedding at House Mountain Inn], Washington D.C.

I did buy a GPS though, and I made all the hotel and car rental reservations for the May trip. That’s something, at least…

Avis Favorable

By   April 3, 2009

I officially received word that there was an avis favorable for my renewal, so I will definitely be a lectrice again next year! I’m set until September 2010 at least. Then I’ve got to figure out what the heck to do with my life. Continue teaching English? Get a Master and a completely different job? But in what? I suppose it all depends on where we’ll be living, which the French government is in no hurry to tell us…

I’m not going to worry about that now, though. It’s actually spring here and the sun is shining, so I’m going outside!

Take your time, France. This isn’t that important.

By   March 30, 2009

Apparently David will know around April 20 which city he is assigned to for work. Since he’ll be in Montpellier until June 12, and he’s supposed to start work June 15, we need to move before the stage even begins on May 25. One little problem – even though David just found out he will become a fonctionnaire and need to move, we still have to give 3 months’ notice to our landlord. Normally if it’s a “mutation professionnelle” you are allowed to give only one month notice. But since David is resigning from his CDI on April 30 and because he’s changing sectors or whatever, it doesn’t count.

So we have to pay rent through June, unless we can find someone to take the apartment. We are still going to move at the beginning or middle of May, but pay rent for that entire month. And then we hope someone else will be here for June so we don’t have to waste money on two apartments. Needless to say, I’m a little annoyed and a lot stressed. I can’t do anything yet to prepare and it’s driving me crazy.

The not-yet-definitive/could-be-completely-wrong list of cities for the positions are: Strasbourg, Caen, Nantes, Dijon, Lyon, Chambéry, Digne-les-bains, Toulouse, Chateauroux, Nevers, 2 postes à Paris et 3 en région parisienne (Versailles, Cergy, Bobigny). But since there are 12 people before David, who knows if he can get Chambéry. I will seriously cry if he is forced to go anywhere near Paris.

Only 5 more days of work before spring vacation…

Learning the Départements of France

By   March 29, 2009

After a 6 month break, I finally got David to do some more recordings for the French tutorials. We finished up French VII and sections on education, politics, television, geography of France, etc. There are a lot of games online you can play to test your knowledge of the geography of France, but I hadn’t yet seen any flashcards or any that include pronunciation. So I decided to make some audio flashcards for learning the départements and their numbers as well as their régions.

Département Flashcards: Name + Number (Part 1)

Département Flashcards: Name + Number (Part 2)

Département Flashcards: Number + Name (Part 1)

Département Flashcards: Number + Name (Part 2)

Département Flashcards: Name + Région (Part 1)

Département Flashcards: Name + Région (Part 2)

One of these days I’ll get around to adding more sets, especially to include the préfecture of each département. And I’ll probably have to add Mayotte if they vote yes today to become the 101st département! (Their status as an overseas département wouldn’t become effective until 2011 though).

I also added an RSS button to the top of each page, for those who want an RSS feed of the updates of the entire site and not just the blog. I hope this will inspire me to work on my website more often. I have a ton of plans (like the American English, Teaching French, and French Conversation sections…), but it just takes so much time to write and format each page, especially if I’m working with a bunch of sound files. I hope to focus on my site a lot more this summer when I’m not traveling.

Renewing Carte de Séjour Vie Privée et Familiale

By   March 26, 2009

We went to the préfecture in Annecy this morning to renew my Carte de Séjour Vie Privée et Familiale. Of course there were already 5 people waiting in line ahead of us when we arrived 5 minutes before the place  opened. We didn’t have to wait too long though, and I had all of the necessary paperwork, so I should receive my new card within 4-6 weeks. They didn’t even make me a récépissé since I should receive the new card before the one old expires in May.

I was actually a little worried when I saw that the nice man was not working today. Of all the 4,921 times I’ve been to that prefecture, it was always the same man who helped me and he distinctly remembers David & me because of the lost card fiasco of 2007. But this new woman was really nice too, and she works fast which is odd for the préfecture.

The only documents they actually took from my huge stack of papers was the new certificat de PACS, David’s birth certificate, our income tax returns from 2007, the last 3 pay stubs for both of us, and the water bill (dated December 29, 2008). Then we filled out another déclaration de communauté de vie which is just a crappy photocopy they provide (write your names and address and sign it because the water bill isn’t real proof that we live together??) and that was it. I’ve even got 2 photo IDs left over since they didn’t need them for the récépissé.

That’s one less thing to worry about. Now it’s on to worrying about when we’ll find out where the heck David will be working as a fonctionnaire (probably mid-April), when and where we’re going to move (probably beginning of May, but who knows where), making sure everything is ready for my trips to the Dominican Republic (need something to wear to the wedding!!!) and the south of France (should I buy a GPS?), and figuring out when to see Martha in Istanbul (June?) and how long to go back to the US for my sister’s wedding (2 weeks? 3 weeks?).

But I am en week-end now and still getting over this cold, so I’m just going to rest and relax for the next 4 days.

The ever-changing and often-confusing PACS laws

By   March 24, 2009

One of the lovely aspects of French bureaucracy is that when a law or rule changes, only some people seem to know about it. So while you try to stay informed and act according to the law, more often than not, you will be wrong when it comes to dealing with fonctionnaires and what they believe is the law… or the new law… or not a law at all. Let’s illustrate with some examples pertaining to PACS.

Example 1: Until June 30, 2008, both partners of a couple intending to get PACSed needed a certificat de non-PACS (or non-pacte). Many official Tribunal websites explicity say this, such as Macon‘s: “Jusqu’au 30 juin 2008, les candidats au PACS doivent fournir un certificat attestant qu’aucun d’eux n’a préalablement conclu de PACS. Ce document s’obtient auprès du greffe du TI de son lieu de naissance, ou, en cas de naissance à l’étranger, au greffe du tribunal de grande instance de Paris.”  You may infer that this means neither partner needs this certificat in order to get PACSed as of July 1, 2008. But you would be wrong, because Macon forgot the second paragraph.

From the Ministère de la Justice’s site: “En outre, le candidat de nationalité étrangère, qui n’a pas d’acte de naissance français, doit produire une attestation de son ambassade ou de son consulat, qui indique quelles sont les pièces qu’il doit produire pour justifier,  qu’au regard de la loi de l’Etat dont il est ressortissant, il est majeur, célibataire et qu’il n’est pas placé sous tutelle.  Il doit fournir un certificat de non PACS (délivré par le TGI de Paris) et un certificat de non inscription au répertoire civil annexe (délivré par le service central de l’état civil) s’il réside en France depuis plus d’un an.”

Even more confusing was this paragraph that used to be on the service-public.fr site: “Jusqu’au 30 juin 2008, les partenaires nés en France doivent également fournir un certificat attestant qu’ils ne sont pas déjà liés par un PACS (certificat de non-pacte). Ce document est délivré par le greffe du tribunal d’instance de leur lieu de naissance, ou, en cas de naissance à l’étranger, au greffe du tribunal de grande instance (TGI) de Paris. Il ne sera plus nécessaire de le présenter à compter du 1er juillet 2008.”

That last sentence only applies to the partenaires nés en France, but it’s not very clear, now is it? Today their site has a box on the right for instructions on how to obtain a certificat de non-PACS and it states: “depuis le 1er juillet 2008, ce formulaire n’est utilisable que par les personnes étrangères nées à l’étranger.” In short, French citizens born in France no longer need a certificat de non-PACS in order to get PACSed, but foreigners still do.

Example 2: When applying for or renewing a carte de séjour due to being PACSed, a recent certificat de PACS (no more than 3 months old) is usually needed to prove that you are indeed still PACSed. If your partner is French, this information will also be on his/her birth certificate, but it depends if your préfecture will actually accept this as proof.

Previously, you were required to go the Tribunal where you got PACSed in order to get this certificat. However, the law changed in January 2008, and now all requests must go through the TGI de Paris. My prefecture obviously did not know that last year when I renewed my CDS in April, and they instructed me to go to the Tribunal in Annecy. So I went there and was able to obtain the certificat even though the law (that I didn’t even know about) said I was supposed to go through Paris. But I was out of luck this March when my Tribunal apparently started observing the new law and refused to give me the certificat.

I wrote to the TGI de Paris for my certificat and received it within 10 days. Even though their website is still down and no one ever answers their phone, they will respond to mail. If you need to write to them for either the certificat de non-PACS in order to get PACSed or the certificat de PACS in order to renew your carte de séjour, here is the address:

Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris
Annexe Brabant
Service du PACS
4, boulevard du palais
75055 PARIS CEDEX 01

Write a letter explaining your état civil and why you are requesting the certificat. Include a copy of your passport or CDS or even your birth certificate and official translation in French for the certificat de non-PACS or a copy of your current CDS and original récépissé de l’enregistrement du PACS for the certificat de PACS, plus a self-addressed envelope that is NOT stamped. (It is important that they know your city of birth, instead of just the state or country.)

As with everything in France, this information could change tomorrow, but you might not hear about it until next year. And then it will change again.

From Annecy to Chambéry in May

By   March 20, 2009

Finally some news about David’s training and job.

David will be in Montpellier May 25 to June 12 for training, and then on June 15 he’s supposed to be in the city where his actual job is. We have no idea yet where that will be though!  We’re hoping to find out at the beginning of April so we can plan ahead.

There will be about 15 cities in France that he’ll have to choose from, and the preliminary list of cities didn’t have many in the south where I would love to live, but it did include Chambéry. He’s 13 out of 17 though, so I hope we don’t get stuck way up north or in Paris…

I will definitely be living in Chambéry for next year (until May 2010 at least) – but who knows if I will be alone with the cat or if David will be with me. David’s going to give notice at his job in Annecy and we also need to give our préavis to the landlord so she can find a new tenant. We plan on moving out at the beginning of May, when David will have some time off between finishing his old job and starting his training – which is in like 6 weeks. Not that I’m already stressing about it or anything.

So if anyone wants to live in a one bedroom apartment in the suburbs of Annecy, let me know. It’s a cute apartment and it was fine for David and me for a while, despite the lack of heat in the winter…

The Second Half of March

By   March 19, 2009

We are more than halfway through March, thank goodness. I’ve always hated this month and can’t wait for it to be over. Last year, my car broke down in March and I had to pay 1200 € to fix it. That was nothing compared to the awful tragedy that happened this March though. I lost a friend on Monday and the anniversary of David’s and my PACS will become the anniversary of his death.

Mid-March also means it’s the end of the trêve hivernale. Now landlords are able to evict tenants if they haven’t paid rent.  With a few exceptions, there are no evictions between November 1st and March 15th, or between 9pm and 6 am, or even on Sundays or federal holidays in France.

Today is, of course, another national strike all over France to complain about Sarko and the government, rising unemployment, the high cost of living, education reforms, etc. etc. etc. Luckily I don’t work on Thursdays anyway, plus I’m staying in bed all day with a cold, so it doesn’t really affect me.

Tomorrow France reactivates its border checks for all land and air crossings because of the NATO summit that will take place the first weekend of April. (France is rejoining NATO as a full member since De Gaulle withdrew membership in 1966.) Between March 20 and April 5, you will have to show your passport and/or carte de séjour to get back into the country. Sarko, Merkel and “Barak Obama” (as the immigration.gouv.fr’s website says) will be in Strasbourg for the summit, so security is really tight.

This week is la Semaine de la Langue Française in France. The 10 mots pour demain are: ailleurs, capteur, claire de terre, clic, compatible, désirer, genome, perenne, transformer, and vision. March 20 is the Journée internationale de la Francophonie which is celebrated by French-speakers on 5 continents. Remember in the French-speaking world, there are only 6 continents total as North America and South America are just l’Amérique.

March 29 begins l’heure d’été in most of Europe. I was liking only being a mere 5 hours difference from Michigan, but I guess I’ll have to get used to 6 hours again.

And then it will be April! Sweet, glorious, not March, maybe rainy but hopefully sunny, warmer than now April.