17 January 2024


Just like in the UK, there isn't much going on in France during January so it's a good time to catch up jobs and tackle paperwork.

It's time for us to apply for a "carte de séjour" (CDS) which is a residency permit.  This involves spending ages uploading documents onto a French government website.  We thought it would be a miracle if it went smoothly and we were right!

The problem probably has a lot to do with our dodgy internet.  At the moment we are using 4G as that's somewhat better than the ADSL we had until last summer, but it's not always reliable and we frequently get "timed out".  

Fibre is coming though.  The wires for it have run past our house since September 2022 but ended in a large reel of cable parked at the end of the road!  There is a website we can look at which tells us how soon we can hope to be connected and we have moved up the scale a bit from "no chance" (red) through to "we're working on it" (orange).  

At a meeting in the village hall last November we were told that even the most outlying farms (meaning people like us) should have the service by the end of January.  True, the reel of cable has disappeared but we have yet to move from orange to "you can apply for it" (yellow).  Looking at the website we are frustratingly surrounded by farms and hamlets that are already yellow or even green - which means they are actually using it!  There are still two weeks left of this month but I'm not holding my breath!

Another job we are tackling is having the chimneys swept (called ramonage cheminée).  It is a requirement of house insurance so last November we called on a local firm to do the two wood burners.  When the man turned up he declared he couldn't do the stove in the kitchen because you can't access the chimney part from inside.  You have to go up on the roof.  He dealt with the living room fire but offered no solution to getting the kitchen one done.

Someone recommended a different firm of plumbers so I went into their office a month ago and explained about the kitchen stove.  I wafted the instruction book (which is in French) at the very helpful lady on the desk and stressed that the chimney had to be cleaned from above, i.e. from the roof.  She reassured me that it was no problem and an appointment was made for the ramonage and also servicing of our gas boiler at the same time.

We were once again up early but when the van rolled into the drive with no ladders on the roof I knew we were in trouble.  There were two occupants; a young man to do the boiler and an older man in sooty clothes to do the wood burner.  He declared he was unable to do it as he didn't have insurance for working on the roof.

We didn't argue with him as our French isn't good enough to have the kind of conversation that begins with "but we told the office you would need to go on the roof!"

His solution was to take a photo of the stove and show it to the boss who might think of a way of modifying the smoke pipe to enable access from inside.  He would then send us an estimate (devis) for the work.  Hmmmm........it will be a miracle if that ever happens!

Once the plumbers had left we were able to light the fires and turn on the heating.  It was well below freezing and our little electric heaters had not made much headway in warming the house.  I took Hugo for his morning walk while Nick settled down once more in front of his laptop for another session of "beat the clock" on our CDS application!


  1. In some places it is roofers who do the chimney cleaning, so ask around to see if any of ours would it.

    And join the club re paperwork. We are in the process of changing banks and applying for a loan. You would not believe the pile of paperwork and weird banking jargon that involves.

  2. Ah yes, we had a letter in early November telling us that our phone service was being switched over to digital via our internet connection within 30 days (despite the fibre cable stopping at a servicebox for the whole village). So far nothing has happened, thankfully, as our internet is slow enough already and, as we can't get a reliable mobile signal either, do feel very dependent on our landline.

  3. Paperwork, why can't it be easier?

  4. Are you looking at the Orange site, Jean?
    If so, you will find no help there... we had the same situation here with everyone around us connected... so Pauline contacted SFR and we were connected within a month!!
    Also, we discovered that we wouldn't have been connected as the cable ran along the opposite side of the road.... at least yours is on your side.
    SFR took one look and gave us a date... guys arrived [without ladders] at about 5:00pm just as it was getting dark... but nine days later, we were connected as one of the first pair turned up by himself and had ladders.... did the job!!
    All details here:
    And good luck!!
    I asked about risk of breakage and he said that if the cable got broken, it would be by something that also took out the power supply to the house and they piggyback their cliams on the power companies claims.

  5. Our French guy goes up on the roof but he is now retired and only does ours and one other couple nearby. Best we look into the problem as I do not know how long he will still do ours!
    Good luck with the "carte de séjour", we did ours in Angouleme before they got computerised and it was simple then.
    We have had fibre for just over a year now it has changed our lives!!
    Happy and healthy 2024, Diane

  6. Our contractor who did gutter cleaning etc. has also retired. We need to find somebody else, which is never easy.

  7. I went fibre about a year ago; parts of the job were distinctly comical. It involved employees of Zoom shoving the flimsy fibre down a previously unregarded hole in the ground just outside my front door and hoping they'd catch sight of it as it passed by another hole accessed from the pavement some 30 metres away. Even if the underground journey had been dead straight friction alone would have caused snagging. But guess what? The active end of the fibre had to pass by other branch-offs and not go down them and into the next county. Which, of course, it tried to do. My man doing the shoving sweated cobs but it became obvious forward progress had ceased. It was at this point that I learned there are different intellectual levels of fibre-shoving. My man must have only scraped through his BA; it was time to call in PhD man. He clearly had an affinity with the far end of the fibre, communicating with it sympathetically, whispering fibre-ishly "You can do it." Giving it a little expert twist. But by this time I'd lost interest and went indoors to re-read Musil's Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften though not in German. Since I'm now emailing you, you gotta believe PhD man was successful.

  8. About a week ago I started learning French. It seems a hard language to learn; I admire anyone who tries.

  9. It's simple, really. You spend a year learning the rules, then the rest of your life learning the exceptions to those rules. To bypass the inevitability of this situation just go over and try with what you've got. The veil of foreignness will be rent asunder.