Wednesday, April 16, 2008

La Mairie and Me

Picture at the end of this email with my new hair if you don't feel like reading. :-)

So this morning Cyr and I went to the Mairie (city hall) to see what all we need to get married here. We have both seen lists online, but with French bureaucracy you never know and you are probably wrong no matter how many things you read online. The good thing is that we had no lines to wait in, but we did have to go to two different Mairies to get all of our answers. Turns out we need the following:
  1. Justificatifs de domicile - we have to prove one of us has been living in Lille for 3 months. No problem. Not sure why they do this, but I guess they want to make sure you have a place to live once you are married. Oh, don't even get me started on how hard it is to get an apartment. You typically must go through an agency and most of them wanted us to have a separate bank account with THREE YEARS of rent in the account to prove we could pay. This was because Cyr was still in the "probation period" for his job. Somehow Cyr got us past that one, but we did have to sign a 3 year lease. Yes, you read correctly, 3 years, and that was the shortest lease they offered. You can break the lease with 3 months notice, but you have to give 3 months notice and rent.
  2. Actes de naissance - Birth certificates, mine has to be less than 6 months old and translated into French, Cyr's has to be less that 3 months old. I understand the French translations, but how odd. Most things in the US require the original or a certified copy which seems to be the opposite of a new birth certificate. Oh, and French birth certificates change. Weddings, PACS and births are supposed to be added to them. Maybe that is why they want a new one...ahhh....
  3. Pieces d'identite - Passports. No problemo.
  4. Temoins - Witnesses, we need 2-4 peeps over 18 and not related to either of us. We are working on this one. An interview schedule will be published. Bribes will be taken and are in fact encouraged.
  5. Epoux de nationalite etrangere (spouses of foreign nationality need the following)
    1. Certificate de Celibat - REALLY? You track that here? I had no idea the Catholic Church was so involved! Well...actually "celibat" or "celibataire" is the French word for "single". Ironic I know. So apparently the US Embassy in Paris will give me a letter saying "yup, she is single". Do some countries have a single card? That might be a good idea for the US. "Yeah, before I get my hopes up here, would you mind showing me your single card? What, you forgot it at home? Really..." Could save some time.
    2. Certificate de Coutume - It sounds to me like they want to know what I dressed up as for Halloween last year, but translated it is a "certificate usual". No problem, just the usual certificate. Huh? The lady told Cyr something and scribbled something that looks like Martian in the margin. I do know that the Embassy will also give me this one.
All the lists we had seen also included a certificate from a doctor who checks us out as well. I guess they don't want anyone bringing sick folks into France. Apparently this has been removed. The lady at the second Mairie scratched it off our list. Woohoo! Once less thing! I now have a hundred other questions after having an afternoon to think about things.

I also had lunch today with a friend!! YEAH!! Marine is a great, I met her in Houston but she is from Lille. It was so great to talk to someone in English in person! Especially someone who knew the town. She showed me a few cute places and I picked up some cards to try to remember them. She was visiting her parents and so we had lunch. She also told me about Alexandre the Great (Hairdresser). See below for new hair. Don't I look French with my scarf? I look a bit pained but it's the best I could do for now. I was also wind-blown all day. I took it on our balcony.
I also would like to point out one more thing I like about France. These people know how to window shop. Somehow the stores have managed to overcome a HUGE obstacle I have seen in the US. Apparently it is physically impossible to put a visible price on ANYTHING that inside of a jewelry case in the US. Really folks, if I ask how much it is and it's more than I want to spend, I'm not going to change my mind just because you went through the trouble of opening the case and flipping the tag to read the encoded price. AND...if I saw a price on something that I thought was less than expected I might actually make a purchase because the price was there!! See picture.

Now, if any of you would like to buy a Cartier watch, THAT is how many Euro you are going to have shell out to get one. I love it. No mystery. It's like they are saying; "Don task me owe much zee watch ees. Eef you see dee price and can not afford eet, zen you do not buy eet and you do not bozer me with zee asking owe much eet ees. D'accord?"

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