During our visa application process, we had our first taste of French bureaucracy and felt that we had only just scraped the surface, thinking that the worst was still to come upon our arrival. And of course, they didn’t disappoint. You see, you don’t just get a visa to come here and that’s that. Once you have the visa, you have to report to the Immigration office and, in my case, also the local council to fill in forms, pay some money, get stamps on your visa, get another sticker in your passport, fill out some new forms, pay more money, hand over some mug shots and hope like hell that your feeble attempt to be friendly with the Professor Umbridge look-alike behind the desk didn’t come across as weird. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Still slightly jet-lagged, we used the first day of our new week to present ourselves to immigration. Using the address supplied and a neat app on my phone, we found the street in no time. The problem was that the office was now a block of brand new apartments. Hmmm, I know what this is. It’s a fiendish plot to discover how cunning and resourceful we are. So I enabled “data roaming” on my phone (which at Telstras rates worked out to be approximately $723.57 a megabyte) and found the “new” address. So, back on the tram, onto a different tram and we were soon heading in the right direction. By the way, the tram service in Nantes is excellent.
We arrived at a building that gave one the distinct impression that it had been there for a long time…. anyway, a burly security guard greeted us and after discovering we weren’t terrorists, let us into the (locked) building. We didn’t have to wait long at all, whew! And it didn’t take long to discover we needed to go somewhere else instead. Yes, we did need to be there, just not yet. So, back on the tram and off to another office. This one bore a striking resemblance to the MVR in one of those movies where the MVR is made to resemble hell on earth. And, wait for it, the ticket machine was broken! Thankfully a young lady wearing a high-viz vest helped us into the correct queue where eventually we were told to go somewhere else. Yes, we did need to go there, just not yet. We still needed some paperwork from somewhere else, and the somewhere else had to make the appointment for us.
So, off to the somewhere else, which is the office that supports foreign researchers, only to find that the woman we are supposed to see won’t be back until next week! Ok, sensing a pattern here we decided to change tack and try to open a bank account. “Hah!” I hear you say, “fools, haven’t you learnt your lesson yet?” Well, no. We haven’t.
So, the bank account we did on another day and it was entirely painless which, was a relief as you need a bank account here for all the usual stuff, but also in order to get a bus/tram pass. This was another prime example of bureaucracy as only the French can do. To apply for a bus pass, there was a two page application required, plus copies of our passports, mug shots and a 14 day waiting period. Pure genius, that’ll keep those pesky jihadies off the buses.
So, to reward our sorry souls for the battles we had fought during the week, we headed of to Nantes Island and Les Machines. I’ll save the description for a separate page here as a single paragraph just can’t do it justice. It was simply the best value for money tourist attraction I have ever experienced. Giant elephant!!!
So, the weather. It’s the end of summer here and clever clogs TW declared prior to our departure “I’m not taking shorts, it’s not going to be shorts weather when we get there”. Guess what? It is. And what great weather too. 33 degrees in the arvo and lovely cool nights, which is just as well as we don’t have an AC. So, I’m strutting around in my shorts whilst TW is wearing 3/4 pants, LOL. So what if I get a melanoma on once of my knobbly knees? I still have the satisfaction of being able to justify packing shorts! It’s the little things.
We visited the office for foreign researchers today who were brilliant. Not only did the lovely lady there tell us everything we needed to know to find our way through the blizzard, but she also informed us that the immigration people, despite our initial lack of faith in our brief meeting, had registered our arrival and sent on a letter paving the way to set up a meeting with the council at their premises and hopefully we will see the last of the blizzard. I have a feeling that the future may hold the occasional sudden gusts of additional paperwork. We’ll see.
Bureaucratic Blizzard is a phrase coined by TW in response to our back and forth like activity so far. From inside it really doesn’t feel like you’ll find your way out, until you get help.