MEUH (MOO) à la Préfecture in Nice!

This video depicts how I feel each time I successfully renew my carte de sejour (a long-stay permit): like a (herded), Dancing cow …… and here’s why!

When I first moved to Nice, I was required to apply for a carte de séjour. I knew about the infamous French bureaucracy, which requires tons of paperwork and multiple copies, and so, I went to the Préfecture (administrative center) to ask what documents I would need. I was told there are over 40 different kinds of carte de séjour, which would determine the list of required documents, and “NON”, the list was not available online – already this was beginning to get complicated! I was given a list of documents to furnish, along with official photos and and fiscal stamps (purchased at another location, of course!) I had my homework cut out for me, as I also noted that the department for “Etrangers” opened daily at 9:00AM.

OK, I was finally prepared, with folder in hand, and got to the Préfecture around 8:30AM — well, actually, just to the outside of a locked entrance gate that led to the sidewalk to the building’s front door. There I stood, along with hundreds of other people huddled at the gate. Not really knowing what the procedure was, I waited too, and around 9:00AM someone unlocked and opened the wide gate door. All of a sudden, everyone started rushing and pushing, with some people running fast towards the building’s front door (which was of course locked!) in order to get there and in line (so to speak!) ahead of all the others. It was a dangerous situation, and all I could think of was that it was like a cattle stampede – totally out of control, both physically and emotionally!

At this point, everyone was lined up (sort of) to again rush through the glass door, when it was opened, in order to run and stampede through the inside hallway to the back area where again, a line was formed in a roped off area, in front of a small reception desk. All this meant that it was a crazy, free-for-all from the start gate to the finish line area – but wait, that’s not all!

After waiting over two hours in line at thé Etrangers reception area, they announced that no more applicants could be seen for the day, and so, everyone still waiting could return the next day (to repeat this same scenario!) There were, understandably, a lot of people upset and complaining/yelling, so finally, the employees just got up, went behind closed office doors to remove themselves from the area – a sort of power-play tactic, which delayed the day’s process even more! When you do finally get seen, you are sometimes missing a document that wasn’t on the list (? what), or a copy of something, as copies are required with the original (again not listed how many are needed). It’s always something….and so, that’s why French bureaucracy is so notorious!

The carte de séjour is valid for only one year, so the stress-filled anticipation of the renewal process starts well before the card’s expiration date! Of course, there’s a more organized way to manage all this – just don’t count on getting up front in line to tell someone!

(Video source: YouTube)

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