#6 – French Bureaucracy and Apartment News???

Paris – 6/12/2018

In France, they have a phrase describing the bureaucracy – it’s a snake eating its own tail, and Kelly and I have been running into a bit of that lately. For instance, to get a cell phone plan, you need a French bank account and a French address (and proof of the address). To get an apartment, you need a French bank account. And to get a French bank account, you need a French address (and proof of that address). Another fun example – to get a work visa, you need to fill out a residency application, but you can only submit the residency application once you have a French address. Things like this have been a bit annoying as we try to settle in (I had to go to the bank twice last week to 1) get my bank information and 2) transfer money to my new account), but we’ve been working through them – and I’m sure once we have an apartment, a lot of this will become easier.

Which brings me to our latest news – we’re getting an apartment! And not just any apartment, we’re getting our first choice apartment! It was the last apartment we visited when we did the apartment search. We’ll be doing the inspection, signing the lease, and getting the keys this Friday morning – Kelly and I are very excited because we can actually put our clothes away and not live out of suitcases anymore! If everything works out, we’ll be able to pack up all our stuff and move it all in Friday morning when we get the keys.
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The apartment is near the Alesia metro stop and the Jean Moulin tram stop (if you’re interested in looking up the area) which should make it pretty easy to get around to the rest of Paris. As for commutes, my commute will be about the same and Kelly’s commute might be a little longer – however, we recently found out that there is a special free bus for people who work at the CEA that Kelly can take that might be quicker than taking the normal public transit.

Of course, now we have to pay for the apartment: in Paris, there are lots of regulations about apartments, and lots of fees/expenses – for moving in, we need to pay the first months rent, two months security deposit, ‘agency fees’ (around $650), a check in inspection fee ($160), and we need to get apartment insurance. And of course, there’s documentation for everything that we need to bring to the signing – 166 pages worth to be exact (and all in French!).

I can’t wait to live in Paris; Antony is nice, but it’s really not the same. Even just walking around Antony at 9:30 pm last Friday, the sun was just setting, but no one was out (it was almost like Los Alamos that way!). I still haven’t seen the Eiffel Tower at night, which will be about a 3 mile walk from our apartment. Maybe we’ll go this weekend!

One last bit of news – the trains in Paris are still on strike. Since completely shutting down the trains would grind all work in Paris to a halt, the RATP (Paris Transport Authority) does limited service on some lines as the strike – for example, the line I was on had half the trains it normally does. They’ve also been spacing the strike out, they’ll do two strike days, the three full service days, and repeat (this started in April and is expected to continue to the end of June). On a strike day like today, the trains get extremely crowded, to the point that not everyone can fit on the train and people are stuck waiting for the next train. Today was especially crowded – it was apparently called the “day of rail anger”.
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A bill to cut benefits to certain transit workers (they currently have guaranteed jobs for life) is supposed to be voted on tomorrow and Thursday, so tomorrow might be even worse for commuting. I haven’t read enough about the bill and the strikes to really understand the issue fully (there really hasn’t been coverage of the bill in English news platforms so I’ve just been reading about it in French newspapers using google translate), but public opinion seems to be with Macron and not with the rail workers. I’ll keep you posted!

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