It’s THAT time of year …

The weather is warming up, the flowers in Paris are in bloom, and that can only mean one thing …

It’s time to head back to the Préfecture to start the visa renewal process. 

Ah, springtime in Paris!

© 2011 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

If you started following je parle américain last year, you’re surely well aware of the nightmare of bureaucratic inefficiency that is the French immigration system. I’ve lost count, but I think I wrote some eight or ten posts on je parle américain last summer and fall recounting my travails at the Préfecture: finding out that what one bureaucrat says is not necessarily what another one needs … waiting for six and a half hours just to make an appointment to come back two months later … waiting outside in the heat … waiting outside in the cold … waiting …  waiting … waiting

Last year was my first renewal, so it was a very painful learning experience for me. This year, having lived through it once, I’d like to think I’m ready for round two. Experience is on my side now. I have lowered my expectations and suppressed my anxieties about what I’ll need to do and when I’ll need to do it. I guess, in a way, I’ve finally taken to heart my own advice about dealing with French bureaucracy that I shared with you here. I haven’t even obsessed over preparing my documents in advance, since they won’t need them tomorrow … uh, unless they’ve changed those rules without telling me.

So, tomorrow morning, bright and early (let’s say 7 a.m.), I’ll be on my way back to the Préfecture at Bobigny. I’ll stand in line outside for a few hours, get my ticket (“You are number 1189. There are 430 people before you.”), take a seat in a crowded waiting room with no working toilets to wait for a few more hours (assuming I can even find an empty one that isn’t broken), and then get my two minutes with an agent at a window when I will ask for an appointment to come back and drop off my application in July, pretty please. Keep your fingers crossed for me, dear readers, that the whole process goes more smoothly than last time … or, at least, that I don’t spiral into a psychiatric nosedive when something does go awry. I’ll just keep singing to myself under my breath:

“I love Paris in the springtime …”

P.S. — To read how the visit ended up going, click here. It was not a French bureaucracy’s finest moment.

© 2012 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

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3 thoughts on “It’s THAT time of year …

  1. Hey, hope all went smooth.

    But maybe all this tormenting is meant to remind you how precious the reward will be: Paris! Now this is something I wouldn\’t mind loosing a few hours for.

    So there were 400 peeps in line in front of you? Just goes to show how wanted Paris is… I bet with some crappy boring city you wouldn\’t have such a big queue.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Andi. I ended up getting my appointment to come back on July 11, but it was a miserable experience. I should have updated this post with a link to follow-up. Since I forgot to do that, here you go: https://jeparleamericain.com/2012/05/20/small-victories/ (I was a remarkably horrendous visit.)

      Interestingly, because I live in the Département de Seine-Saint-Denis, it’s much worse than it would be in Paris proper. I think my département is the one in France with the highest number of immigrants, and the system is clearly broken there. Some of my French friends suspect it may be designed to dissuade immigrants because there are “too many” in the eyes of the government, but most of these people are here because it’s MUCH worse where they come from.

      In any case, I’ll be going back in two weeks to drop off my dossier and wait for a letter telling me to come back and get my new carte de séjour. Wish me luck that it goes smoothly!

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