Tuesday, 28 August 2007

La Carte de Sejour

The day is upon us. We reserved today, Monday, as the day to apply for our Carte de Sejour. The Carte is what allows non E.U. citizens to stay in France more than three months. It's a big day for us. Not only does it mean we'll be asked to produce all sorts of documents that we pray we have, it means we are taking the first official step in committing to our year in Paris. It's also the first time we could be denied our dream of living here. Here goes-

We enter the Commisariat de Police. Thankfully, not the long wait we had heard about. We were called to booth #4. We were asked why we want to stay in Paris for a year. Good question, I thought. "So we can all learn French," I say. It's as good an answer as any. I added that the kids are already enrolled in the Bilingual School. The young friendly clerk smiled, said okay, have a seat. So far, so good.

When we are called up to the front desk, where I heard the clerk telling two different people they need to come back in December, I am very serious and motion for Sean to come up.
Financial papers? Oui.
An apartment lease? Non, but I do have this paper saying I am renting an apartment for a few weeks. It is scrutinized by front desk clerk, and also by big imposing man in back room.
Electric bill? Non. "We just arrived five days ago..."
Health insurance? Oui.
The clerk hands our papers back to us and we sit down again. Hmm...

The friendly clerk at booth #4 calls us back and asks for the same papers as front desk clerk. She is also not impressed by our apartment rental paper and also shows it to Big Imposing Man (aw, come on, he's already seen this), but is very relieved when I produce health insurance papers. She begins my paperwork for the temporary Carte de Sejour. Woohoo! She then asks for a marriage certificate (which I have) because though married, my last name is different than my spouse's and this adds confusion in France (I thought they were more progressive with these things). Alas, I am given my temporary card "which I must carry with me everywhere", and a date is scheduled for us to do this again at the end of October to receive our definite Carte de Sejour.

Then it comes time to do Sean's paperwork. I may as well have had a monkey sitting next to me. No offense to Sean, but the clerk and I spoke about him and his paperwork as if he weren't there at all. I'm sure he was relieved and not insulted like I may have been. He also passed the inspection and was issued his temporary card. Woohoo! (At least until October).

We are very excited, and slightly worried for Matt (Sean's brother, also just moved to Paris) who will be coming to apply for his Carte de Sejour. The whole process for us took place entirely in French. Matt knows very little French. But surely he isn't the first person to apply who doesn't speak French. Just then Matt calls and is on his way to get his Carte.

"Do you want me to stick around and help you?" I ask.

"No, it'll be all right," he says.

And it probably will. Matt never worries, and it always ends up okay for him which annoys me sometimes.

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