Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Real French Fact #5: French Bureaucracy is Ridiculous

          French bureaucracy is ridiculous mostly due to the insane amount of paperwork. The French love to require their copies, their photos of you, copies of photos of you, photos of copies of photos of you… you get the picture. Want a visa? Prepare to fill out a small dictionary’s worth of files. Want health care? Sorry, your card isn't going to be processed until you've already left the country for good. It has been so much work getting my visa validated, my French bank account opened, my French phone plan arranged, my French bus pass seen to, my bus pass compensated for by my work, and I still have to work on getting health insurance and possibly some rent compensation. (Phew!)

Le defeat. 
         After my first month in France, my visa was finally approved after a health examination, which culminated in me having to strip and being pressed against a very cold pane of glass so that they could x-ray my lungs. The con was that for a few awkward minutes I had very little dignity and keen sense of a draft; the pro is that now I have a spiffy x-ray of my lungs to look at, whenever I'd like. They are a fine specimen, I must say. Especially given that I have no idea how good lungs differ from bad lungs. But I'm sure that mine are spectacular, as lungs go.

          My boyfriend also deals a lot with paperwork, at his job at a law firm in San Francisco. Yesterday he sent me: “Now, time to burn CDs and to file! That could be my superhero name... The Filer. I would catalogue and label my villains, and then SEAL THEM IN CABINET DRAWERS FOREVER. TO DIE."

          Boyfriend would fit right in here in France. 


  1. pfft... with my filing skill, I would cure the French system of red tape in a month.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. i feel your pain on everything, all the way down to the chest-on-cold-glass. but mostly on the paperwork:

    this summer, all the EAP students had to do was turn in their OFII paperwork to the office. my job was to organize all that paperwork... there were 70 EAP students. and not nearly enough filing cabinets.