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Everything posted by Laura

  1. It's actually not as complicated to sort out as you might think. When I decided to leave France 6 months ago, I just wrote to the impots at the e-mail address indicated on my most recent tax return (providing my unique tax number which is printed on the tax return), stated that I would be permanently moving to the UK on the 17th August 2009, and gave them my new address. I explained to them that I would still have French income to declare for the period Jan-Aug 2009, so please could they send me my next tax declaration to my new address in the UK. I also explained that after moving to the UK, I would no longer have any income from French sources. That bit is important, because it affects whether you need to keep filling in French tax returns or not. It all worked fine, they just wrote back saying thank you for letting them know, and that they'd entered my new address onto their database. I know they've definitely done this, because since being back in England I've received a water bill from them, sent directly to my new address (not in the redirected mail). Thinking about it, the people at the tax office must deal with this sort of thing all the time. There's a lot of Brits out there moving back to the UK from France, so they've seen it all before.
  2. ontheway, Yes I am getting PACSed first. I have been with my boyfriend for ages but we've only just got around to officially moving in together, and seeing as we now legally share an apartment we thought we may as well get PACSed straight away in order to reduce the amount of taxes we pay, and also as a way of officialising our relationship as we will not be getting married just yet. That doesn't stop me from thinking about the future and wondering how the name/ID system works though! Just curious for the moment you see...
  3. I will soon be getting PACSed and have recently started the process by taking a trip down to our nearest Tribunal d'Instance... and I have to say that the people working there seem to be absolutely clueless. Anybody thinking about getting PACSed, I advise you to read as much as you can about on the internet first before going along to initiate the process. Having done just that myself, I was glad I did. First of all, the receptionists gave us a "list of paperwork required" which later turned out to be out of date. Also, they had manually scribbled out the part which said you needed a "certificat de non pacte", as if it was no longer required or something. Unfortunately for me I trusted them on this (I thought, "well they wouldn't have scribbled it out for no reason"), especially as they made no mention of it when they recited verbally what was required. They just said we needed our "extraits d'acte de naissance", the convention written by ourselves, and for me a "certificat de coutume" was also required. No mention whatsoever that I would need my birth certificate translated into French! So I asked the question. Yes apparently they need to be translated. Well they could have said so rather than waiting for me to ask the question! No mention whatsoever that it had to be done by an official approved translator or how I should go about locating one. So I asked the question and asked if they had the list of traducteurs assermentés (a good job I had read about that on the internet beforehand!). Oh surprise surprise, yes, they DID have a copy of the list - so why didn't they just give it to me rather than waiting for me to ask yet again? So then of course, I take care to get all my paperwork in order, my certificat de coutume from the British Embassy and an official translation of my birth certificate, my boyfriend goes along to the mairie for his extrait d'acte de naissance, we write a simple convention together and we think we're all set to go. Now I'm the kind of person that gets really excited about things like this, just like I get excited about Christmas and birthdays... for me, this is the last step before getting married... and I can't believe the day has finally come. So off we go, paperwork in hand, only to be then told by the Tribunal d'Instance that they can't PACS us because I didn't have my "certificat de non pacte". The disappointment was awful, and I was so annoyed that they had not mentioned that this document was necessary the first time, and even worse, had even crossed it out on their so-called list of documents required! I argued with every reasonable argument that I could come up with, explaining that at reception they said it was no longer required, but it didn't make any difference. It just wasn't going to be possible without this certificate. So I've sent my envelope off today to order the certificate from the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris. What a hassle! The French administration certainly do seem to try and make people's lives as difficult as possible... or is it just plain incompetence? Anyway I'm just going to hope that everything goes as planned this time and that we'll be able to get PACSed before the dates on our extraits de naissance expire! So let this be a lesson, arm yourself with as much information as you can before tackling the French administrations, ready to correct them when they get something wrong in order to save you more trips to the Tribunal d'Instance than necessary!
  4. When I get married, I would like to use my husband's surname instead of my maiden name, as many women do. Had I still been a UK resident, I'd have changed it on my passport and all my documents in order to completely lose my maiden name. However, in France this is going to be complicated. It would be so much simpler if I was a French national with a carte d'identité with both surnames appearing on it, but how am I going to prove my identity with my passport if I introduce myself with my husband's surname and then present my ID which has only my maiden name on it? There are going to be times where I need to prove my identity with my maiden name (filling in official forms for the préfecture etc) and times where I'll need proof of my married name when I introduce myself as such. How does this work? All the married women out there - did you change your name on your passport or did you resort to taking a copy of your acte de mariage everywhere with you as well?
  5. Hi everyone, I thought I'd better ask this before it happens to me one day... I am a little confused about what one is supposed to do when you wake up one morning and discover that you're too ill to go in to work. I've worked for various different companies here in France and luckily I haven't been ill yet, but whenever I've had colleagues who've been absent due to illness, everyone talks about them being on "arrêt de travail". I understand that this is a piece of paper you get from the doctor who decides how long you're allowed to stay off work for, and that you have to give one page to your employer, send one page to the Sécu and keep the other page for yourself etc... but.... Surely if you wake up in the morning and are too ill to get out of bed and drag yourself to work, then you're too ill to get out of bed and drag yourself to the doctor's surgery to obtain this wretched piece of paper...? I just don't get it. When I came into work this morning and discovered that one of my colleagues was ill and wouldn't be coming in to work, my other colleague said "il est malade jusqu'à quand?"... I thought, "what a bizarre question, one never knows how long they're going to be ill for! It's not exactly predictable..." It turns out that what she meant was "il est en arrêt jusqu'à quand?" (nobody knew the answer to this, but that's not my point) So what it the procedure actually? Surely in order for the doctor to let you have days off work, he has to see that you're actually ill (and not just faking it) before he gives you the piece of paper. So it's no use dragging yourself down the doctor's surgery afterwards, once you're starting to feel a bit better. What if you're at home feeling really sick or you just can't move? Leaving the house would be the last thing on my mind. In one of my previous jobs, one of my colleagues who'd just come back to work after a couple of days off ill was getting a right telling-off from the boss as he didn't have the right bit of paper. I overheard the boss yelling at him, "Ca, c'est pas un arrêt de travail! Je ne veux pas de ça! Si t'es malade, tu vas chez le médecin!" Oh dear... so it seems it's incredibly important to have the form in your hands when you come back... so what exactly does one do? I spent a few years working in England before coming to live in France (I am 25) and whenever I was ill I just phoned work and told them I wasn't coming in. Simple. No forms involved and certainly no doctors, because normally one is expected to feel a bit better the next day and it's just not worth the hassle of going to see the doctor for something that'll probably go away on its own. So anybody who has had experience of this, your answers would be very welcome! Laura
  6. Hi James, I am the same age as you, 23, and moved out to France on my own a couple of years ago - the best decision I ever made! It has been an amazing experience so far, you simply never stop learning and discovering new things. Meeting the local people is one of my favourite things about living here, as they are the key to learning your new way of life. They've got so many interesting tales to tell about the local area, it really is worth spending time in your local bar/café and absorbing what's going on around you. If you're not comfortable with approaching strangers, you'll get approached sooner or later if you go there often enough. That's where the real adventure begins - once you start talking to one person, they will often introduce you to other people they know eventually. I live in a tiny village in the Alps that nobody seems to have ever heard of, and to be honest that's just fine by me... I love being the only English person in the village! The locals seems to find it fascinating, as it's the sort of place where the natives have had their families there for generations and generations - although they get the occasional group of English tourists every now and then who come for their skiing holidays, they are not used to the idea of outsiders actually coming to their village to live permanently. That always provides a good starting topic of conversation when meeting someone new - tell them your story about how you ended up living there! I suggest that from a social point of view, just make yourself "visible" - don't hide away in your apartment all the time. Go out, make yourself known to your neighbours, be seen to be making a social effort to fit in. It may take a while, but as the time passes you'll start to discover that your efforts were worth it. The rewards are great, there's so much out there to be gained by moving to another country! Laura
  7. Hi everyone, I am hoping that somebody out there will be able to explain to me in SIMPLE terms what my obligations are regarding the French tax system. I have been living in France for just over a year, but until recently I have been working for British companies in their overseas offices and was paid/taxed via the British system. However, this January, I have just begun working for a French company for the first time, and I intend to continue working for French companies for the rest of my life now that I am happy in France and finally set up on the French social security system (which seemed to happen all by itself - my employer appears to have produced a French social security number out of nowhere for me!) My knowledge of anything administrative or tax-related is basically non-existent (as you can probably tell already) as I have never taken any interest in it before and never needed to worry about it until now - while working for British companies, tax was automatically deducted from my monthly wages and I never needed to do anything about it myself... and it was just fine that way... LOL. However, after reading various websites like this one, it appears that France don't do it this way. So, what I would like to know is... - As I only begun working under the French system 1 month ago, do I need to declare anything at this point in time or can I sit "tranquille" chez moi without having to do anything official until next year? - When the time comes for me to make my first tax declaration, will I automatically receive notification of this in the post, or do I need to go and get the forms myself? If there is action required on my part, where to I get the necessary paperwork from and how do I go about "registering" so the tax office know that I exist? I take it that being set up on the social security system is not sufficient for the tax office to know that I exist and to automatically send me my first form? - Once I've done my first declaration, will I automatically receive notification from this point onwards when it's time to make another declaration for the following year? A huge thank you to anyone who can explain what needs to be done. Much I love France and the French way of life, the one thing I can't stand is their obsession with paperwork! I've managed to get out of doing anything official so far, with the exception of opening a bank account and being interviewed for my job, both of which were an administrative nightmare when it came to proving my address as the apartment I live in is in my boyfriend's name, but got there eventually. I've heard talk of France planning on changing their tax system so it'll be more like the British one, where individuals don't need to do anything as the tax just gets automatically taken out of one's wages - is this true?
  8. Ah, so it's not just us who've received 2 copies of The Connexion from nowhere then! Neither myself nor my boyfriend have subscribed to it, but strangely we got 2 free copies in the post addressed to my boyfriend who has been living here since he was 10 years old and who has never wanted to read anything in English... no idea how that happened. He's the kind of person who likes to think he's 100% French (and, to be fair, he does an extremely good job of it - you'd never know he hadn't spent his whole life in France) and was disgusted to find English reading material in his mailbox... I couldn't help but laugh when I saw his face, and was most grateful to take it off him for my own reading pleasure! I must admit though, although there are some interesting articles, it seems to address its readers as people who are incapable of dealing with everyday life in France without help - I would like to think that most Brits living in France are better integrated than what its editors seem to believe.
  9. Woo-hoo! 93.33% on the first test! Time to try the others...
  10. As if local accents weren't enough to contend with already, you've also got all the various "regionalisms" like the tendency here to stick the word "y" everywhere (for example it's perfectly acceptable to say "j'y mets sur la table" instead of "je le mets sur la table")... "quelle heure c'est?" instead of "quelle heure est-il"... "ça neige" instead of "il neige"... there's plenty more, I could go on forever! As if that wasn't confusing enough for the non-native speaker, the locals also like to frequently mix in words of patois (franco-provençal, to be correct) in with their French sentences... and in some cases this means completely changing the meaning of an otherwise "standard" French word, for example "j'y fais d'abord" actually translates as "I'll do it straight away" in the Savoyard sense, whereas in standard French it would mean "I'll do it first". And then you've got those people who speak only in patois (yes, these people do still exist in small villages like mine, although they all understand French as well). Add to that the fact that the local accent here is quite rough-sounding compared to other French accents - less musical and more syllables missed out - and you have a real challenge on your hands! I'm having fun learning the language though, even if the Alps probably isn't the easiest place to learn it... once you start to understand the origin of some of the local expressions you discover that there's a real sense of humour behind it all!
  11. [quote user="Dotty "] SS73 I was under the impression that the Alps had snow already????? Glad you have it now though [/quote] Places at higher altitude (about 1600m upwards) have had just about enough snow to ski on during the past few weeks. I am based at 1350m and the only slopes we've been able to open (until today) are the few slopes which have snow cannons on them. But even so, it's been an absolute nightmare trying to maintain them as the snow produced by the cannons doesn't stay put if the ground temperature is too warm. Due to not being at work last week, I took the opportunity to go up the mountain to investigate the conditions a bit higher up, and it was literally a case of having to slalom between patches of grass - it really was that bad! Downright dangerous if you ask me - rocks and bare ground poking out all over the place. According to my colleagues who had the opportunity to work last week, we've already had lots of accidents reported on the pistes due to the conditions. I'm just relieved that the snow has finally arrived and everyone can ski safe and enjoy it.
  12. At LAST...! As an inhabitant of the Alps myself, to say that I am relieved to finally see some snow would be an understatement! With the snow coming over nearly two months overdue, the season can finally begin. I work for the local lift pass company in my village, and have been unable to start work until very recently due to the weather conditions causing us to close most of the pistes. Finally, things are back the way they should be - it lifts one's spirits to look out the window and see it all white again - it's been far too long! [:)]
  13. [quote user="stumpy"] ...weve come to the conclusion that if we make enough money to pay the bills the adventure of learning a new culture will be worth the ups and downs  to come...  [/quote] Couldn't agree more, Stumpy... the experience of living in a new culture and learning a new way of life is what makes it all worthwhile. Sure, it's full of ups and downs, but that's what makes it interesting! I came to France in 2005, to live in a rural area (a tiny village in the Alps) with absolutely no knowledge of French and without much money either, but if something means that much to you, somehow you make it work. I have not once regretted my decision to stay here, and I have certainly never missed the UK or felt like going back. Now, I have been here just over a year and I really feel like I have settled in properly. I can now speak almost-fluent French (words of wisdom: determination is EVERYTHING) and have just started working for the local ski lift company in my village. My best advice would be to introduce yourself to everyone as soon as you can after you arrive - that way, you'll make lots of friends (who could also be great contacts for finding work if necessary) and you'll also learn French at the same time. I'm just trying to use my own example to point out that things CAN work, you're not necessarily doomed to having to return to the UK just because you're not rich or fluent in French. Good luck!
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