Well! We moved to north Morbihan at the beginning of November, 2015, amidst horror stories about French bureaucracy and bureaucrats. About the way they treat people, the way they suddenly go off to another department, the way they suddenly close for lunch (nobody interferes with a French fonctionaire’s lunch!), their general superior, sneering attitude, and the “why didn’t you know that/bring the right bits of paper/arrive earlier/take a ticket,you can’t do anything without a number” manner. We, my wife and I, have been met with nothing but kindness, helpfulness and politeness, even with our “Anglais stupide” way of going on! Trying out my pidgin French, I’ve noticed that most French people will let you struggle on for a little while and then,once they’ve decided you are at least making an attempt, pathetic though it is, they will smile and speak to you in English.
From getting the car headlights changed, having the CT done, applying for a carte grise, car insurance, etc, etc, etc,everybody has been most helpful.
Mind you, finding the correct department can be something of a nightmare.
Living in Plouray, we naturally went to Pontivy to obtain our quitus fiscal, which is to “prove” that you’ve paid the VAT on your imported car. First of all we went on a Wednesday. The office doesn’t open on a Wednesday, and when it does it’s only until twelve o’clock! Back again on Thursday morning. A very helpful, English speaking chap took all our many documents and made copies of them and suddenly said “Ah. You live in Plouray? We can’t do this here, you must go to Lorient!” Désolé. So, off we go to Lorient. We found somewhere to park, the correct office, and took a ticket because you can’t do any thing without a number. Five minutes later I have the quitus fiscal and directions to the building where I have to go to get my next piece of paper!
This is the dreaded carte grise, or car registration document. Tales of two hour waits, stubbornly unhelpful fonctionaires, not having the right documents, were swirling round in my head as I drove early to Lorient, again, with (alliteratively) a fluent French-speaking friend. We walked into the Préfecture and took a ticket, because you can’t do anything without a number, and being careful not to stand in front of that yellow line, on pain of becoming a victim of Mme la Guillotine, I presented my collection of documents to a rather formidable looking lady, who immediately surprised me by smiling and wishing me a cheerful “Bonjour”. She then checked my credentials and gave me a form to fill in and then waved me through to a waiting area full of uncomfortable-looking seats. This is where I had been told the waiting started. Well, no sooner had I started filling in the aforementioned form than my ticket number came up on the board above my head. I was called forward by the lady behind the desk who helped me fill in the form and gave me the provisional carte grise which I then paid for. We left the Préfecture less than fifteen minutes after going in! The final CG arrived two days later. How’s that for service?
We are currently applying for our carte vitale. We’ll tell you about that as it progresses!
Guest blog @plouraypeople