My visa expiration date was looming and, not quite ready to go home just yet, Sim and I paid a visit to the Préfecture du Rhône. The dreaded administrative instutution, notorious for their inefficiency and lack of both sympathy and photocopiers, is an unavoidable step in the renewal of one’s carte de séjour, or residence permit.
We got up bright and early, intending to arrive between 7 and 7:30 to line up for the 8:30 opening time. Yes, this is how the system works. No appointments. You have to line up like punters at a festival and hope you arrived early enough to get a ticket. We arrived at 7:10 and joined the line – turned out we were 60th.
When the doors opened at 8:30, we had a passport check and were divided into two groups – those seeking asylum and those, like me, seeking to change/renew their resident statuses. We settled into the vast waiting room, and…waited. For over two hours. There are 30 guichets, or counters, in this section of the préfecture and 10 were staffed. Living up to the reputation.
When our number finally popped up on the screen, we hurried over to Yohan at guichet 16 and, in 15 minutes, were done – after over three hours of waiting! We had a list of requirements which we’d followed to the letter. We had so many documents, and at least two photocopies of each as, if you’re missing anything at all, they will not make a copy for you – you have to come back another day. We had photos, bills, bank statements, attestations that I won’t work and that I live with Sim, copies of all my passport pages that are stamped – even my birth certificate, translated into French! It pays to be over-organised though – the only extra thing was that Sim had to write an attestation that he’d take responsibility for me financially if I ran out of money (he later told me he wouldn’t – he’d send me home – nice!) and he did that then and there. A few signatures later and voila! I had my temporary permit, valid for 3 months, and instructions to come and collect the real deal after mid-June.
I wonder what the line will be like for that one!