Jackie Parry – author

Fined for staying more than 3 months in France

13 Comments

In short, Noel has been fined for staying longer than three months in France – during the application process. If you want to know how or why, read on…

Background
I have a European passport, Noel (husband) has an Australian passport and UK Residency. Near the end of our first three months, Noel applied to stay longer, as per our instructions from the Prefecture.

For five months we’ve been playing ‘ping-pong’ with the Dijon Prefecture. More recently they’ve started asking for stuff NOT on the application form (instead of the same stuff we’ve already sent them six times already – no exaggeration there).

We’ve now moved to the SW of France and took advice to see the local Prefecture here, to get some help. Here’s what happened:

Mistake No. 1
We had to catch the train, to Agen (nearest Prefecture). We cycled eight kilometres to the station.
Missed the train by eight minutes, next train was in three hours.
We decided to have another go on Monday, but then we saw a rather large taxi.

Mistake No. 2:
‘How much to Agen, please.’
‘Fifzeen or sizxeen’
‘Great!’ For a ten minute ride, that sounded about right
One hour to dismantle bikes and seats – but a good idea…..
… until we had to pay.
‘How much?’
‘$58. 20 please!’

A better Prefecture
The Prefecture in Agen is fantastic compared to Dijon. Dijon is like a cattle-market on steroids, where strange woman hand over their baby to complete strangers, so they can join the scrum. This is the place that, on our first visit, they searched through my passport (European) and demanded to know why I didn’t have a visa – so you get the idea.

In Agen you take a number and after just a few minutes you are sitting down talking to a person, a real person. We explained our situation with my poor French and her poor English, but we did rather well (aided by dictionary).

Mistake No. 3 – Assuming Agen Prefecture would call Dijon, clarify and sort the mess out.

Cut a long story short  (yes, this is the shortened version)
– We have to start again.
– Include our Australian bank statement translated French (erm, aren’t  2, 3, 4, written he same?)
– Translate health insurance documents to French
– Print out French bank account statement (showing more than $1,000).
– ‘Basically, in Agen, all we need to see is that you have money!’
– We have another appointment next Friday

Whooooo hoooooo…. until…..

‘Oh and because you are here longer than three months, we have to fine you.’
“WHAT?”
And there’s Mistake No. 4 – doing the right thing!
So, a $50(Euro’s) fine

On the way home
As we sat on our train, waiting to leave the station to return home, we had a little chuckle about the mad-cap day; and we were just relieved to be going home.

Mistake No.5, thinking we could relax
‘Everyone off!’ And all of a sudden, we had to change trains, a fault had been found.
We all shuffled off
We all went to platform five
On arrival to platform five, we were told to go back to platform four
All rather boring with large bikes; up and down thirty or so narrow steps with 10,000 other people.
‘Platform four-and-a-half now please folks. Actually just run head-first at that brick wall as fast as you can and I promise that you’ll be home in a jiffy.’

Okay, they didn’t actually say that last bit, but at this point, nothing would have surprised me.

Arriving to our stop, we passed a hardware shop which had some building materials we wanted. So loaded up with heavy gear, we cycled the eight kilometres home just before dark and decided to open a bottle of wine.

On a positive note & in summary
– It was a ‘successful voyage.’
– Whether you are on a boat, horse, bike or train, getting back ‘into port’ safely is a successful voyage.
– We’ll complete the four page (new) form (previous one was one page!)
– We’ll pay the fine if we have to (but will argue the point first).
– We’ll be grateful, the fine could have been $2000!
– We’ll deal with Agen as we can actually talk to a human
– If we continue dealing with Dijon, it costs around $15  each time we mail the application – that’ll add up pretty quickly (already has)
– We figure, that if we walk away, or continue to deal with Dijon, at some point, someone, somewhere will check and we’ll be in even bigger doo doo.
– We may, possibly, finally, get this sorted…

…. Why is it, then, that I can sense Mistake No. 6……?

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Author: jackieandnoel

Author and Traveller

13 thoughts on “Fined for staying more than 3 months in France

  1. Unbelievable!!! but……welcome to the peculiar vagarities of living/adventuring/existing in France 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness, Jackie! I so understand where you are coming from here. I’ve been through the same dreadful process here in NL. They don’t even have the charm of the French accent to relieve the frustration. At least I didn’t have to cycle all that distance and lug my bike on and off trains, but the frustrations can make you want to weep. It should have been easy for me as a British citizen, but no….I came here from South Africa, so that meant I was immediately suspect and had to jump through a zillion and one hoops, rather like those you are negotiating. And by the way, I think they invent papers you need. I never had enough and there was always one missing they hadn’t thought to tell me about before. Cheers me dear! I’m raising a glass to your continued fortitude!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Val, I have one good trait, Being Tenacious – thanks goodness! I can imagine the troubles you’ve had – so appreciate your kindred spirit comments… I, too, think they make it up as they go along, as someone said to me, ‘they don’t know what to do with you!’ – ho hum – I have a feeling this is our last ditch attempt this week – keep pinkies crossed and class raised! cheers. Jxxx

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  3. Hi Jackie, Did they put a receipt in your husband’s passport proving your papers were being processed? Do you know how to prevent this from happening and how to make sure he is living legally after the 90 day stay? We are about to go through the same thing ourselves in a few months. 🙂

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    • Hi Marisa, there is no receipt in the passport, however, we do have all the paperwork that has gone backwards and forwards over the past 5 months. So we have our letters (dated) and theirs. So it is fairly obvious what has been going on. However, Agen Prefecture didn’t care. It is like being in a different country now we are in a different Region, it really is. The only thing I can suggest to apply earlier, but the form we have says apply AFTER being here two months…. we do know people that have got their visa straight away with no problems. I think it depends on the Prefecture you go to and who, at that office, you deal with (ie luck). I believe that if we had gone to Agen Prefecture first, it would have been sorted in about two weeks – but we were up near Dijon and Dijon is a chaotic night-mare when you visit – absolute bedlam. You can’t talk to anyone there when you first go in – they give you a form and you have to fill it out and send in your details (paperwork) – after that if they want more – you still can’t talk to anyone – you just have to follow/do what they ask for….. we tried several times to just talk to someone, and gave up…. hence we are trying here! When I have more info, I will post it.

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      • Thanks Jackie. Its sounds ridiculous – Dijon is now off our list. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Marisa, I really think if you find a small Prefecture (like Agen) it will be so much easier. In Agen we could actually talk to someone. Agen was actually excellent – it is just the fining bit that has us miffed! Anyhow, if we had gone somewhere like that first, and talked to someone, I reckon it would have been so much easier…. You live and learn – please do let me know how it goes… I will update after Friday’s appointment – fingers crossed!

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  4. It certainly seems that the French bureaucracy is a big challenge from all I’ve read, including this experience. Off topic Jackie, but I’m trying to contact you regarding a photo for use in the DBA 2015 Calendar. I sent something to your yahoo address, is that the best place? You can contact me directly at myfirstname.mylastname@me.com

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    • HI Ian, it certainly is a challenge. I hope to write up our whole experience next weekend with it completed…. lots of other people are having problems too. I have seen your other email, I will answer that this morning – but no probs with pic – just have to find it! 🙂

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  5. Wow, what a nightmare! Fingers crossed all goes well at the next Agen meeting!!

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  6. Oh boy! Would you like some Panadol with your wine?

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