French Tape


I have validated thanks to living in France, a roll of heavy duty, water proof, industrial strength (2”x 50 yards) tape, only comes in one color, red,

Read On:

When I made the decision to move to Cannes, I knew France had a reputation for being a nightmare for bureaucracy and red tape. Given I was not going to buy a piece of property or get a job, thus pay taxes, I assumed French bureaucracy could not be no better or worse than what I had encountered in the States, except for some extra stamped paperwork. My experiences to date:

  • Out of the gate when I attempted four times to open a local bank account without success, I realized this widespread belief of French red tape was real, not just an old, tired cliché/stereotype.
  • In early September 2020, I assembled the paperwork (a.k.a. dossier) needed to renew my long-stay Visa. I received notification my registered mail was delivered and signed for at the region’s prefecture. I was waiting for my renewal interview and then bam, France’s second COVID-19 lock down occurred, thus forced the prefecture to close. Post lock down I followed up several times and never heard back. I decided to hire a lawyer to expedite my request for a Visa extension. Still waiting!
  • Unfortunately, I experienced two medical emergencies and had to navigate the French medical system. The first was my mother suffered a stroke, survived, so I moved her into a special care residence. She did not have proper medical coverage so I worked with the hospital’s social services to get her temporary French social security to cover the cost of her lengthy hospital stay. Another dossier was required. Good thing I packed a copy of her birth certificate. Her assisted living residence made me sign/initial every page of a 22-page contract. I then had one personal medical emergency. I only had to work with my American medical insurance company to process my claim. Definitely less paperwork, one form and my hospital report, plus numerous exchanges “your call is very important to us, we are experiencing longer than normal call wait times as a result of COVID-19.”

My most recent red tape experience stirred me to write this post. My mom (102 and 3 months old) finally passed away 4/7/22. To abide by her wishes to be cremated and have her ashes scattered at one of her favorite local beaches in Théoule sur Mer, with the help of my family, the cremation paperwork was tedious. The funeral home required me to send in two handwritten letters from my family back in the states complete with copies of their passports authorizing my request. At the end of the funeral home rendezvous (a.k.a. French for meeting), I was told when I am ready to scatter my mom’s ashes, since she selected a public beach, I will need a special permit to rent a boat to take me to a point 500 meters off shore, approximately 5-1/2 football fields, to complete my task. I was speechless.

This much I do know: I will continue to utilize public transportation & UBER and not even entertain the idea of getting a French driver’s license in the near future.    

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