Les Gendarmes

Next up in the series on becoming French…  A surprise visit by the Gendarmes!  While I knew it was likely to happen, somehow when they actually showed up it was a bit of a shock.  I wasn’t expecting them this “soon” (manner of speaking, after all, my file was sent in months ago!), and I half expected a note in the mailbox to organize a time for them to come.  Instead they got to see a table with remnants of breakfast still on it, a mountain of unfolded wash on a couch and many other small touches of real life.

I had the littlest home for the morning from school because she was congested and she is prone to asthma or lung type infections.  Anyways, so we were home on a weekday morning, hanging out, I was on the internet, little Miss was watching some cartoons in undies wrapped up in a blanket.

And then, TOCK TOCK TOCK, someone knocks on the door.  This is already somewhat an event in itself.  We aren’t super rural, we do have a few neighbors, are on the edge of a village, and often I close our gate, so it isn’t a daily occurrence.  The dog goes wild.  Child comes running over to investigate, naked.  I see a dark silhouette through the pane on the door and think it is the postman.  Immediately think “yay, a package!”, swing open the door in excitement.  And it isn’t.  It is two gendarmes, of course, looking rather stern.  Actually, I don’t know that they look really stern, probably just the effect of the uniform and the stance they always seem to have, legs shoulder width apart, hands behind backs.

Of course, mother and wife that I am, I think that something has happened either to my girls, or to my husband.  I’m pretty sure all the blood drained out of my face seeing them there.  They were quick to reassure that everything was fine, they were here to speak to me with regards to my nationality request.

So we stood in my messy entryway (think rain boots for a family of five, other various shoes, a kimono on the ground where it was tossed the night before upon returning from judo, a few small piles of clean clothes children were supposed to carry up to bedrooms, and weird catch-all table that lives in the entryway until I find an armoire that makes my heart flutter covered in random bits and pieces of life…), while they asked me a few questions.  When did we move here?  How did my husband and I meet?  How many kids do we have?  How old are they?  What does he do for a job?  What do I do?  A few kind of random comments that I wasn’t really sure how to reply to like “Wow this is a big house!” and “You don’t have hardly any accent at all.”  And then they left, it was all pretty friendly and not a big deal.

They went down to the  neighbors after to ask if we really were a couple…  And of course, small village, my neighbor knew the older gendarme so they stayed and had an apéro at hers before heading back down to the gendarmerie.  The neighbor actually played a pretty funny role in this whole situation before the gendarmes even got to my house, but more on that, later!

So, all in all, just under 4 months after my file was sent in, I had my gendarme visit.  Now just waiting for my entretien d’assimilation, so getting there, slowly but surely!  I can’t wait!

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Bientôt Française…?

As wife to a Frenchman, mother to Franco-American children, the idea of becoming a bi-nationaux is something I’ve been considering for quite some time. As the world we live in sometimes feels stranger and stranger, filled with less certainty, an more confusion, I decided it was a step I was ready to take.  I have been in France for many years, soon enough, I’ll have lived in France longer then I lived in the US, so I really do consider myself half French, half American.  Or, maybe I should say 100% French and 100% American?  Whatever the percentages, my identity is split between the two now, and carrying both nationalities satisfies parts of my identity, being and soul.  I carry both in my heart, one is my roots, the other are my branches.

Once I had decided to move forward, I wrote to my préfecture to inquire about the exact requirements.  I knew I had the basic requirements to apply as the spouse of a French person, but each préfecture has a slightly different process, or requirements, and they all function a bit differently.  (Mine requires files to be sent in via AR with a chronopost envelope in case they must return your file to you, others prefer a rendez-vous to drop off your file in person, so if you are interested in requesting nationality, I recommend checking with your own, local, préfecture before starting anything).

They got back to me rather fast, and with the list of paperwork required in hand, I got to work locating everything.  Luckily, it was the start of the school year, when I finally found myself with free mornings!  I started compiling my dossier, which I finally completed end of October and send off to the préfecture early November.  In total it took about 2 months to get it together, with some help from my parents as I needed copies of their birth certificates, along with the “usual suspects” when dealing with French Administration- recent bills, impôts, acte de naissance, copies of IDs, self addressed pre-stamped envelopes…  But nothing all that daunting, in fact, I think the list is quite similar for a ten year carte de séjour.

A few months of running down to the mailbox as soon as the postman had come by, I was almost suprised one day to find an envelope in my mailbox written to me, in my own handwriting!  The préfecture wrote to let me know that my file is complét (whew!!) and next I’ll be called in for an entretien d’assimilation.

So, while not a fast process, it is one that is moving forward.  I’m busy now reviewing my knowledge of French history, but I’m not concerned.  I’ll update as the process evolves, watch this space!

Affaire à suivre…