This will not be a particularly exciting email as it deals with French bureaucracy. I will include some pictures however to ease the pain.
Emily and I have been dealing with paperwork today in order to get ourselves caught up with the minutiae of moving to a different country.
I will start with the easy stuff. I decided to ship my bike over here from the US as opposed to flying with it which would have been much simpler and cheaper. Shipping was close to $400 and has been more complicated than one would think. If you are a normal person, the following steps would probably occur to you regarding shipping a bike or anything else to yourself in your new home. Step 1: package up item. Step 2: have Fedex (or carrier of your choice) pick item up and carry it to your new place. Step 3: Receive new item and enjoy! The following is what actually happens. Step 1: have a professional (thanks Tina!) pack up your bike and ready it for shipping. Step 2: Fedex requires 43 separate documents that all have your new address on them. Step 3: Fedex picks up your bike and somehow gets it to France rather quickly only for it to be delayed in customs for want of more paperwork. Step 4: Contact Fedex to find out what documents you need in order to have your own property delivered to you. Step 5: chat with Ulrich on Fedex.com and find out that you need proof of residence in France, you know, just in case you were shipping it somewhere you were not living. Proof of identification, so as to prove that you are you. Sworn statement verifying that you have owned the item you are shipping to yourself for more than six months. Step 6: email all of the above to somewhere in France. Step 7: item will be released and supposedly delivered to you by six pm that same day! The bike has not been delivered today as of yet, but they do have a couple hours before six pm arrives. .
Another item on our agenda for the day was validating our long term stay visa. Thankfully, that process was rather less painful than getting my bike over here. All we had to do was go onto a website and fill in some information. It did involve some payments and a weird “stamp” that you can buy online or in your local tobacco shop, obviously. Not being tobacco shop type people, we chose the easy route of buying our “stamp” online. Validating our visa legalizes us here in France and allows us to stay for the full year.
Third on our list today was checking with the Refuge du Lac Blanc to see if they had space available in July. The refuge is part of a huge network of places to stay along the trails in Europe. Refuge du Lac Blanc is high up on the side of a mountain next to a lake with spectacular views of Mt. Blanc and does not have internet. (How do they survive?!) In order to contact the refuge, one has to call and speak with an actual person. We called, but got a message in French which we totally deciphered all by ourselves! We were super proud of ourselves as it was a long message! There might have been an English version of the exact same message after the French one, but we are neither confirming nor denying such a thing.
Moving to a new place involves lots of new processes that a person does not normally have to deal with if they have not moved. All of the processes could be considered a headache, but we are trying to consider them learning opportunities.
We are fortunate that Hibou Deli is now open to help us deal with all these processes. When Emily and I went in the other day, one of the employees recognized us right away and gave us a loyalty card which gives us a free something or other after ten purchases. It is certainly nice to be recognized, even if you are paying someone to do it. The people in Hibou Deli are very nice though and in fact have already given us free stuff. It turns out that if you are a regular customer and you go in at the right time, they will give you free salad because if they don’t sell it all or eat it all, it has to be thrown out.
We are also fortunate that there are plenty of outdoor things to relax the mind after a long day of processing. The above picture was taken from a trail above Le Tour and shows a good view of Argentiere in the foreground and Chamonix further down the valley in the background. Mt. Blanc is in the top left of the picture in the clouds. For perspective, realize that Chamonix sits at about 3,000+ feet and Mt. Blanc is 15,700 feet. That should give you some idea of the steepness we have around here.
Now it is time for more learning and adventure. Go out and be consistent!