One is never far from the great rivers of France. Today two of them featured in my adventures, the Garonne and the Dordogne, the Garonne because I crossed over it twice on my return journey to Bordeaux this morning, and the Dordogne because I drove alongside it on arrival in the centre of the city. The two rivers meet at Bordeaux and then flow out to the Atlantic through the Gironde Estuary, the Garonne having risen in the Spanish Pyrenees and the Dordogne in the mountains of the Auvergne in the Massif Central of France.
I was in Bordeaux for my RDV at the Prefecture of Gironde (our departement’s administrative HQ). I’d better explain. RDV is a widely used acronym for rendezvous, otherwise in English known as a meeting or interview. This is the penultimate stage in the process towards gaining French residency, so essential for us to be able to continue developing our beautiful garden after the disaster of Brexit. I’m delighted to say that everything was in order, my file is complete and my fingerprints have been recorded. The final stage will be the arrival of my Carte de Sejours (resident’s permit) which will take 6-8 weeks.
The extremely kind and helpful young man who met me at the Prefecture, after processing my papers, volunteered reassurance that my husband will be able to apply for residency in due course when his working arrangements allow, and gain the same pre-Brexit benefits that I’ve been granted, because I arrived here before the deadline 31 December 2020 and my residents’ permit is being granted under the Withdrawal Agreement. Phew, what a relief!
French officialdom sometimes attracts criticism, but our experience is that people are kind and want to help. Yes, there is often a long list of documents that are required in support or as evidence, but so long as you supply what is requested our experience has been wholly good. I’ve been meticulous in reading everything very carefully (usually with the help of Google translate) and then complying with all the requests and requirements. It has certainly paid off for us so far.
On a lighter, more garden-related note, we have some new furniture for the covered terrace which I had to assemble over the past couple of days. It took me longer than it would have taken my husband, partly because my eyesight isn’t fantastic and partly because I’m simply not very manually dexterous. But it was all well-made and slotted together perfectly, and I neither had any pieces left over at the end nor was missing any.
I think you’ll agree it looks pretty inviting. We bought it from Maisons du Monde whose service was most efficient. The old furniture in the background, quickly moved out of the way, will be re-deployed to other areas around the house and garden. In a garden like this you can never have too many places to sit or visit with a cup of coffee or glass of wine in hand. Somewhere for shade, somewhere for sun. Just perfect.
Once I’ve dressed the terrace with pots of summer colour (lots of pelargoniums for sure) it will really look good. And the icing on the cake is how well it matches in style and materials with the dining tables and chairs (out of sight to the left) that we bought five years ago from IKEA.
There’s still a biting wind coming from the north and east, but with the vaccination programme now ramping up in France, at last it appears that there is hope ahead!
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