4 March 2024
1 March 2024
For several years our house in France has had everything we need. When we downsized in the UK in 2014 we moved to a much smaller house and most of the furniture we had was too big so everything came to France. We then brought all the furniture from the little holiday home we had in the village as well!
One of the difficulties caused by Brexit is that the days of being able to bring more or less anything and everything from the UK to France are now gone. Year after year we would bring bits of furniture, tools, paint, plants and gardening equipment every time we came for a holiday. Since Brexit that is no longer allowed. Generally we are only allowed to bring the kind of personal items appropriate for a holiday and a limited value of other stuff. Anything over and above that is subject to import charges.
This is why many UK companies, especially smaller ones, no longer ship to France. The paperwork required and duty on goods is often prohibitive. Equally, anyone ordering goods from the UK is often obliged to pay a disproportionate amount of duty on goods that previously did not apply.
Because we are actually making France our permanent residence we have a year from the start date of our visa during which we could bring any of our belongings, just like anyone would who was actually moving house (rather than coming to live in one they have had for years, like us!).
Consequently we had a good look at what we had in the UK that we might benefit from having in France and managed to fill the trailer with a variety of things. A few tools, some hobby and craft stuff, a few pots and pans, bedding, bits of furniture and so on. The tedious part was that we had to make an inventory for every item and give its value. Most of it was stuff we had owned for some time and no longer had receipts for, but the information on the French government website states that a reasonable estimate of the value of used items is acceptable. We spent a lot of time writing a list of everything and its approximate value.
We took the opportunity to being extra pillows and duvets. The issue with bedding is that French beds, pillows and duvets are a slightly different size to those we get in the UK. The equivalent items in France vary by just enough that our existing sheets and duvet sets (that we brought from the UK years ago) do not fit them.
So, in my very last trip with the car I brought a supply of replacement duvets and pillows so that when the old ones are past their best and need changing we won’t have to buy a whole lot of new bed linen as well.
Next time……..grappling with the French health service.
27 February 2024
26 February 2024
It did not go well. First of all the engineer turned too sharply into our drive (which was widened last year) and dropped his back wheel into the ditch. For some reason he took his ladder out of the van and placed it across the bucket attachment before he tried to drive the van out. Luckily he managed to get enough grip with the remaining three wheels to drive it back onto terra firma. Nick stood by to make sure he didn't do any damage to our new gates.
Then the engineer looked at where the unit was to be installed and immediately declared he couldn't do the job because he didn't have drill long enough to go through the wall. He suggested we get an electrician to drill the hole and he will come back on Friday.
Considering that three quarters of the houses around us all have walls at least as thick as ours, and have fibre already, I find it hard to believe that he didn't have the right kind of drill. Nick suggested several ways he could get the job done using a drill we have for our walls but he rejected all of them.
He made another appointment for Friday then drove off, almost dropping in the ditch again, with his ladder still perched across the bucket thing.
We look forward to Friday. He phoned to confirm the time but we think he said it would be someone else. We rather hope it is! Watch this space!
23 February 2024
This week we’re back to winter. Yesterday it rained all day and was blowing a hoolie. Our lovely daffodils are blasted to bits and the wind even blew a whole mistletoe plant out of a tree.
Still, Yvonne was very happy to lend a hand with a jigsaw puzzle!
Today I have made a "school cake" and poached some chicken ready for making six litres of cock-a-leekie soup for an event in the village tomorrow. Time passes pleasantly, in spite of the 'orrible weather!
21 February 2024
19 February 2024
At the beginning of 2023 we started the process of moving to France properly. To do this we had to get the right kind of visa. This is a long stay visa that lasts for one year and is called a VLS.
This visa allows the holder to stay in France for one whole year, during which time we could come and go as we please (no complicated Schengen calculations needed) and is the first step to an application for residency. Getting it was a similar tedious process to getting the VLST the previous year, compiling numerous documents and personal information including evidence of income, of having somewhere to stay and having health cover, then taking them to an appointment at the visa centre.
Regarding health cover, for the previous six month visa (VLST), the UK GHIC card (used to be the EHIC card), is sufficient. It entitles the holder to basic emergency treatment in other EU countries. We also bought a private annual health insurance to cover the things that the GHIC doesn't, such as repatriation. The situation is different when applying for a one year visa.
For people like us who are in receipt of a UK state pension, cover is provided in a form called an S1, which is obtained from the Dept of Work and Pensions (DWP) usually requiring just a phone call. This is a document that effectively transfers health care from the UK to France. (France provides the health care to UK citizens living in France and the UK pays for it). To get it we had to give the date of moving to France so we chose a date that coincided with when we wanted the visa to start and about a month after our appointment at the visa centre.
(The health cover situation is different for people who are not in receipt of a state pension or wish to work in France.)
As with the previous temporary six month visa (VLST) we had to compile all the documents and apply online for an appointment with TLS (the agency that handles all applications). There are only three TLS centres in the UK that do this; in London, Manchester (Salford) and Edinburgh. On the day we went along for our appointments, the centre in Manchester was crammed with young Chinese people who were all holding UK passports but mostly ill prepared for the process. Consequently the centre was running very late and - the toilets were closed!
All in all it was a miserable, tedious and expensive exercise, although made easier by the fact that we had been through a similar process the previous year and had much of the information readily to hand. We had all our documents in order - actually compiled in the correct order for handing over - as per the instructions on the French Government website, including having a set of the right kind of photos.
As the hours ticked away we sat with head in hands thinking thank goodness we would not have to do this again! We were full of admiration for the staff handling the applications for their immense patience in dealing with so many people who were not well prepared, short of documents and photos.
Once we finally got to the front of the queue the young woman who dealt with us whistled through the process in under ten minutes. Then we had to go for "biometrics" - the taking of fingerprints and more photos and then finally, several hours after we arrived there, we emerged into the pouring rain in Salford to search for a public toilet! The total cost on that day was, from memory, around £300 as we had paid extra for our passports to be delivered to our home by courier rather than have to go all the way back to collect them.
Salford is a devil of a place to get to from where we live but I have read that TLS have moved premises to an address not far from Manchester rail station, which will make life a lot easier for most people needing to go there. (Assuming of course that there is no rail strike on the day of your appointment!)
Our passports with visas attached were delivered to our house about two weeks later. They came by Royal Mail. They also included instructions for the next step in the process which was to validate the visas within three months of arriving to live in France. This we did a couple of weeks after we got here. It involved logging onto the French government website and paying a fee of 200€ each.
Next time..........compiling an inventory.