So I think it’s time for a rant about the madness that is French bureaucracy. Even though I thought I’d got a lot of this out of the way when I came out in August to find somewhere to live, it turns out I was so wrong. For just about everything (a bank account, a French sim, enrolling at university), there are a MOUND of papers to fill out and things you need. When I came out here in August, I found out that it is a vicious circle: without an address you can’t get a bank account, and without a bank account it’s difficult to rent a place. I managed to swiftly find a loophole by using my Belgian relative’s address who lives here (fille anglaise 1, la bureaucratie française 0)
That said, that has been my only victory so far. And even then, I had to produce a wad of paperwork and a letter from my relative giving the go ahead. One things for sure, there is no way of battling against the French system. Many French people have admitted to me that it’s ridiculous how much paperwork they like to have, but ‘c’est la France.’ For my place, I had to sign maps of Paris showing me pollution risks and other ridiculous things which just seem completely bizarre to a foreigner. Even to get a French sim, I had to produce my passport, details of my French bank account and ‘un justificatif de domicile’ (proof of where of where I’m living). And I haven’t even started applying for CAF yet! (financial support to help with rent)
In short, I really appreciate the easy-going English attitude! Even though I’ve felt rather bogged down with bureaucracy, I’m still loving it here! I went to a ‘Franglish’ event last night at a bar near Place de la République, which is kind of like speed dating with a language exchange thrown in. You speak 7 minutes in French with a native, then in English. I was surprised that I could switch between French and English so quickly! I would highly recommend to anyone who is up for meeting a mix of people. Here’s the link to their website, they do lots of events at different bars in Paris, Lyon, Nice and London: http://www.franglish.eu/
The Parisian stereotype is still a myth to me – everyone has been so friendly and helpful! I’ve made friends with the local fruit and veg man who gave me a free plum for the road tonight! I’ve also had some good chats with the man in charge of my residence, I just hope I’ve buttered him up the right way so he will sort things out in my place for me!
One positive of all the bureaucracy is that I’m finally an official student at the Sorbonne!