It is the beginning of 2019 and the annual preparation for renewing my carte sejour. It would be the sixth year and, perhaps, a lucky year that will or can bring the 10-year card.
But Brexit is coming on March 29
and that has made all the difference.
I am not one to delve into politics since the 2016 US election made this a distasteful topic. But I catch wisps of the changes in the EU and, on occasion, curiosity alights. Brexit
dominates the narrative across the Atlantic and it has consumed my attention. Not because I am interested in the bickering between Theresa May and Parliament but because my British neighbors in the south of France are in panic mode. It is catching!
Deal or no-deal, news or fake news, the carte sejour is now a must have for the British residents of France. The rush to acquire one before the March 29 deadline has caused queues in prefectures and sous prefectures, overwhelmed
online reservation systems, and pushed functionnaires to the edge of anger and apathy, thus leaving carte sejour applicants in frustration and despair. I am one of them.
Though I’m American, and not subject to
the wheeling and dealing between the UK and the EU, I and other non-EU citizens need to comply with the French bureaucracy. And this requires us to renew our carte sejour no less than two months of our expiration date. Difficult to do
when the online reservation system for Beziers is either shut down or full. C’est catastrophe!
So I dive into scenario planning. I tell a neighbor the difficulty of getting a rendez-vous, nicknamed RDV, in Beziers and she offers,
“Je pose la question a Narbonne, pas Bezier.” Then she emails me saying that Narbonne told her I must apply at Beziers. Next, I ask our mairie whether they can facilitate an RDV. They checked the website, they call Beziers, and,
alas, I have to make the RDV online. “Mais c'est toujours complet!” Keep trying, they say.
I follow the Facebook forums, and some are getting their RDV. The advice is to wait until Sunday midnight when the schedule
opens. The comments also say they get full very, very quickly once this opens. So I set my alarm and I spend several Sundays refreshing the site to catch an open date and time. So far, no good.
One day, there is a notice
on the sous prefecture site. Beware, it said, of people taking advantage of carte sejour applicants. Apparently, there are trolls (no other word suffices) filling up the schedules and reselling to desperate applicants. The
website also announces that they will randomly open the schedule throughout the week to avoid the malfeasance. Oh la la!
So this quest for an RDV goes on. Week after week. Husband says, “Keep calm.”
Then adds, “Keep trying. We need to retire there.” As if I need reminding! First and second daughters are encouraging as well. “Not to worry, mom. They’ll let you renew even when it expires,” they announced
in an encouraging voice. “You’re American, pas du probleme!” Hmmm…. No sure of that resounding endorsement.
My guess is that we will just have to wait and see. I stumbled upon this adventure more
times than I could ever imagine, and I just went with the flow. And it has led us to this beautiful and charming corner of France. Vibrant and welcoming.
I am not ready to give it up. Brexit be damned!