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What it’s like to try and open a bank account in France

To just OPEN a bank account is more than you could ever imagine.   YOu could ROB the bank easier, I swear.   But never fear, THE BUTTON that must be “pushed” that actually ACTIVATES your long awaited account has been “pushed” and David was able to succeed in less time than anyone (that we have known or read about) to get the darn bank account OPENED!!  This was all   AFTER   – 1) a copy of our federal income tax returns was scanned and emailed via our girls in our house  (in less than two hours!!)    2) copy of a passport    3) address where we are staying confirmed by the OWNER of the property,   4) copy of the owner’s identification (that is non-expired)    5) copy of the owner’s utility bill  (We had a very nice person who did this for us)   6)  verification of employment  7) statement of wages under French contract   8) declaration of value of personal assets – including real estate   9) completion of 9 pages of account opening documents (all in French ofcourse)    10) & when David asked if he could make now an opening deposit – the response was “NON!!” – we have no CASH here!  …..For THAT – you have to go to another branch 5 blocks away!!

OH!  And if that isn’t enough……..

You also MUST show that you have a FRENCH SOCIAL SECURITY CARD in order to be employed!!!  The saga of THAT little gem is this  – It’s basically a HEALTH CARD – so if you get sick  – you can get treatment. (He’s a member of the EU).

The process is – when you first come to France – you have to register for this – you get an ENGLISH (UK) European National Insurance Health Card – So D contacts England for this –  to send it to him (his Uncle, actually)  – who will forward it,  then he shows that  plastic card and goes to a GP and REGISTERS with them.  THEN,  if you need a Prescription, you show this to the Pharmacist so you’re not charged .  Under the “TREATY” if you have the card in ONE EU country – you are entitled to get it in another EU country.  Lovely!

SO, JUST to be EMPLOYED here all of the above has to be completed perfectly and totally IN ORDER to be HIRED anywhere.    David completed this unimaginable feat in less than ONE week and 2 days.

I knew he was good for something!!!  😉

YES AMY!!! The Washer actually IS a DRYER!!!!!!!!!

Place du ParvisI mean who would have “thunk”?  My little washer in my little kitchen actually CAN * DRY*  the clothes as well as WASH them??  I’m in heaven.

So apologies to you my dear ami, but you know that I always hate to see you right when I think I’m right and you know that I know we’ve had this going on for quite sometime.

The funny thing about having a friend for so long is that as you age and you start forgetting stuff,  before you know it,  your old friend becomes a new friend all over again.  That’s really a joke but then it’s not. 😉

“We’re off to see the Wizard”  again today, which translates into – I’ll end up where ever I end up because that’s what happens in Paris when you’re learning the vast public transportation system and that means RER, METRO and BUSES and did I mention WALKING?  All of those things put together in one afternoon to get from A to B, and to stroll amongst very beautiful streets with markets galore (especially today) is an exciting prospect.  HOW am I EVER going to go back to OVERLAND (Missouri)?!?!  Ah well, we enjoy what we have while we have it and hope and pray that it lasts just a little teeny bit longer than you thought it would.


Au Revoir mes amis!!!

My friends have gone back to West Palm Beach and it’s quiet & a little sad.  It was a splendid visit first with her and Sarah who saw as much as you can in 2 days and then just girlfriend time with Amy the next week.  The funny thing is that she had to bring her own bed as we live in this unfurnished apartment until our other apartment is ready.  But then we’ll still need the beds because there is only one bedroom in that furnished apartment and no “extra room” so – these beds or “BUBS” as we nicknamed them shall remain! (BLOW UP BEDS)

(Oh, did I tell you?  My friend Amy thinks my French (very complicated Washing Machine is a Dryer too!!!)

Anyway, —We did the metro everywhere that first day until I was about to drop.  Amy and I were a pair I tell you as she has a bad back from the years of lifting bags and carrying 4 babies – and I have these awful knees from throwing bags in the bins of aircraft plus the lifting, so you should have seen the 2 of us up and down all those metro stairs, not to mention the walking!!! But the walking was fine actually. The stairs not so much.   We stayed in the Eiffel Tower for 3 hours taking in the first level then sitting down in the sunshine up there telling stories, then eating on the middle level what turned out to be a fabulous and not expensive lunch.  We even had mulled wine!  AFter that we went to the very top and oh!!- so much fun that was.  The cold wasn’t that bad at all either…… infact the sun felt wonderful up there and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had anyway, going up there.   I don’t know how many times I’ve been up, but it’s been a few since mom took me there around 16.  Hmmmm. …..  16- 60+……that’s a lot of years, and a lot of mileage on my feet -and KNEES!!   I’m just glad the lifts didn’t break and we’d be forced to walk down from the top!  HA!

We ate – we played well – we loved well – and we laughed well.

The things we saw in 2 days:  CDG – Gare du Nord (a lot to see just from the trains, on the trains, off the trains, the train station itself.) I’ve never seen so many people in my life actually.  Then, lunch at Enghien-les-Bains Cafe where Sarah relished in the fresh salmon with a sauce and Amy chose a red wine to die for…..but didn’t.  And then we came back to the apartment for their “jetlag rest” and then out again to see the city of lights after picking up David from his work in Les Invalides.

What FUN!  As I said, there were too many metro STAIRS, but other than that, and the fact that the BATEAU MOUCHE was closed by the time we got to it…..nevermind, we hailed a cab and got back to our very busy Gare du Nord Train Station where there is always a train going to where you want to go.  UNLESS, there is a strike.  Alas. No strike.  We got back and got a good nights rest so that we could start with a bang in the morning and go and go and go!  While all the GOING was GOING ON – I have to say that Sarah got doors opened for her, taxi’s screeching to a halt when NONE of us could get one, uh hem…. and drivers giving her their phone number on their card(s) the entire day.  One guy sang to her in the metro, another one coyed up to her in the train and well, the list goes on……and on….and I pray that her mother doesn’t bring Sarah’s friends along next time or we’ll never ever see any of them again!!!!!!!   😉

Well, we did the City of Lights from the heights of the Eiffel to the depths of the metro …  and it was – I must say – for 2 “older girls” and one young 19 year old and one “older man” – we did really quite fine. Thank you AMY for bringing me hangers, and Irish Spring soap, and the BEDS and blankets and sheets and most of all  YOURSELF!!! AND SARAH!!!!  I love you, I cherish you as a friend and Paris will never be the same without you both!!!!!!   All my love,   Marti


One can get high as a kite in Paris,and it’s all nat-u-ral, actually

Just to be brief because I have friends waiting.  But,  yes, the hangers did arrive, plus the washcloths, plus the Irish Spring deodorant soap and those little things were just pure bliss.  Much to do ’bout everything as we are flying here and there and everywhere to absorb the City of Lights and not sure whether they’re wearing me out or visa versa. In any case, staying at the top of the Eiffel Tower is and was a natural high, no, not was, as we’re still on it; not to mention the mesmerizing maze of metro trains, culinary delights beyond belief and photos are to come, but how do you photograph TASTE!!??

There’s more

But not now…………

If you see coat-hangers on the sidewalk, can you just pick them up and take them home?

I saw these great coat-hangers today.  You might say that the word Coveted actually crept  into my mind about them.  They were just lying there and they were all alone needing someone (like me) to pick them up and give them a good home.  Alas, my husband wasn’t so sure. Afterall, they had a little tie around them and then some kind of little scroll in between the crook of the hanger and the triangle part.  I looked at him and said, ‘Do you think it’s like a message for MI5 or something?”   I put them down.   Then looked at them longingly once again.   They were pathetic.  I needed to take them home.  My husband says to me, ‘Well, when we return from the Pizza Place tonight, if they’re still there, maybe it would be all right to take them.”
Long story short.  It’s cold and rainy and we never did go out to the Pizza Place but instead had a cozy dinner inside the apartment with no stove, but alas a new microwave and was able to pull something together  with soup and salad and wine and it was divine!

I just really really wanted those hangers though !!!

First day on the job -and no trains running!!


It’s a big day.  The first day on the job.  Everything set and ready to go, timetables present, Navigo-Decouvert in pocket, Attache, etc, so OUT the door he goes for that coveted train!  Not so fast there David!  What?  NO!!  He gets to the station right on time for his 7:00am train. He’ s allowed a full hour since  we’ve already timed this  and it’s 40 minutes max from our station to Invalides to his NEW JOB.

When he arrives at Enghien-les-Bains he sees a BLANK screen.   Not only is the screen blank but the faces of the passengers are more than blank.  It’s dark, it’s rainy,   people are going back and forth kind of like little mice not knowing how to get out of a trap in a cage – and  there is NO ONE, not a soul to ask about information because it’s too early for anyone to be there.  Hump!  he says.  “I know” he says again………”I’ll go to the  little snack bar  and see  if they know what’s going on.”   Wrong.  It’s closed.   It’s saturday.

SO – he’s sees a gentlmen  about 40-ish,  wearing a black leather jacket,  nicely fitted, and  he appears to be some sort of businessman that might know something.  David watches him go  through the turnstiles sees him look up at the screen and sees words to the effect that there is NO service on LINE H. At this point the black leather jacket gentleman looks again,  mutters a few expletives,  whereupon David asks him “Are you going to Gare du Nord?”  The gentleman looks at David,  says an emphatic OUI!! and then gives the “french shrug” and continues, don’t know if I’m going there NOW.”  He then goes back into the station and David follows him.  He looks at the sign once again, then miraculously the ticket window flies open and  they   both ask the woman, ” what is going on?”  whereupon  she gives the French shrug and says “NO SERVICE !  You will have to TAKE THE BUS! ”  Everyone is peering into this little window now and waiting for her to say something else.  Then someone says “WHICH bus?” And then she says in super fast French – (something something something) and the passengers say  “HUH?!?” and she repeats “154” whereupon the entire line turns en masse looking towards that bus-stop. Off goes the black leather businessman and David  right behind him, the crowd trailing behind THEM.  They never say a word  to each other — and now they’re walking super fast down towards the bus-stop and when the bus finally comes, the bus driver looks shocked because  now an entire train load of people are there to get on his usually very quiet, very uncrowded bus!!!!

The BUS DRIVER starts arguing with the Black leather guy and then he hears the Bus Driver say an emphatic NO!!! (French say NON! -VERY nasal) – and continues…HOW did you find this out?   The BL guy says – “well, the lady in the station said this is the bus!”  The BusDriver says, ‘WHY ARE YOU TAKING THE BUS?!?!”  BL guy says “BECAUSE THE TRAIN IS *NOT* WORKING!!!!!”   – so they continue their French diatribe back and forth for what seems like many minutes………..AND THEN, (there’s this long pause )- while EVERYONE (like atleast 50 people) are WAITING to hear a response from the BUS DRIVER.

The  BusDriver then says, “You’ll have to take the BUS 154 -”  And everyone is looking at him like………AND……….DOES it COME HERE???

NON!!!   THIS is the bus stop for 256!!!

Everyone leans forward…………

“WHERE, do we GET this bus 154???”

Bus Driver:  You must go to the right and then in front of the station whereupon everyone turns around (again – en masse) and off they go down the road to stop 154!

Now, all these people begin to look at this long pole where there is a teeny tiny Schedule afixed to it – and it’s dark and they’re trying to figure out when the bus is actually going to leave.   There is much muttering back and forth about the time, because the Bus Driver (256) never said what time….oh! That would be too much information for him to impart, oui.

Then, David ‘s “friend” in the BL jacket is nervous now and starts pacing up and down the street  shrugging and muttering, “Where’s the bus, where’s the bus”….. They wait.  And they wait.  More people arrive.

The bus (154) finally arrives.   So now, EVERYONE gets on the bus and someone confirms that they are, indeed, going to Saint Denis – where they will pick up the RER to Gare du Nord!

David is in a packed bus at this point.  He can hardly see the BL guy anymore….The bus is on the way and then it stops about 2 blocks away to pick up more people and then another 2 blocks does the same and this continues  and David looks up at the schedule on the bus and between where they got on and Saint Denis,  there are a whole lot of  little dots.  “Surely,” he thinks, “this bus is not going to stop at  EVERYone of  of those little dots??” Hmmmmm.  Yes, it is a fact, that this bus or any bus that is 154 from here on after is going to be stopping at all those 24 little dots!!!

David checks with his BL friend who is, by this time, looking out the bus window very despondently.  There is no eye contact.  Sometimes, he can’t see his friend at all, it is so packed, but every now and then the bus sways and there is a slim crack between all those bodies and he can still see his “friend.”

Just as David is getting very used to all the stops, there’s a braking of the bus on one of those 24 stops and with a slight opening towards the back David’s friend all of a sudden looks towards him and gives David “the NOD”.  David jumps towards the door and out he goes and so does the  BL friend.

They’re out now, but  there’s no BUS or  TRAIN STATION and he’s wondering why they got out here.  There are no words exchanged.  David’s friend starts huffing and puffing towards the station in an eery run down area with lots of cement and weeds growing up all over it . Suddenly there’s a slim little opening lined with bushes and a tiny narrow bridge over a little canal and all these lochs.   David’s friend climbs over the bridge walking very very fast now and David’s keeping up with him  and thinking,  “Where the heck are we going?”   A large ugly building is right before them now with more ugly cement and weeds growing hither and yonder but!  They are at the BACK of the Saint Denis Train Station where they both go into the terminal and lo and behold, the TRAIN is WORKING!!


They get on the train, David and his new Black Leather Friend, David thanks him profusely in French and his new friend gives him a big smile.

Had it not been for this “black leather friend” with ne’er a word exchanged,   David would never had made it to his NEW job, on his FIRST day,  on TIME.

Aren’t the French grand?!?

Some pictures

price of housing (apartments) ummm, that 's not the BLDG, it's an APT price. Speechless

If FACECREAM is a fortune…..



What’s with the price of face cream?   Or is it ALL that  REGENERATIVE stuff and costs a bloody fortune?  Did you know, that when you run out of what you think you MUST have under penalty of womanly LAW   (your face cream) that you can actually get by with HAND cream and it’s not so bad? (It’s a very good handcream, but still…) So!!  Since I can’t even entertain the idea of getting some face cream right now – I have resorted to the handcream and it will work until we absolutely can afford for me to spend the 25 euros for their very expensive face cream/moisturizer here in France!!  (I’d actually rather have a french phone, if you want to know the truth!!)

Continuing of a new day in Paris……

The apartment smells so clean now.  Who knows what I put in the kitchen sink, but it’s WHITE and you have no idea how happy that makes me.  I am such a 50’s kind of  housy-wifey –  it’s not even funny. The towels are all hung up and the dishes washed and I’m quite happy with the way the kitchen looks now.  Even though it’s MISSING a STOVE.  Nevermind. I’ll heat things in the oven. There are no pans in here anyway for the stove.  We’ll do sandwiches again like we’ve been doing for 5 weeks!

I’ve got KNIVES though.  They left their knives. Lucky me – I can cut more BREAD!!  Yeah!  I could cut up a chicken though and throw it in the oven.  That’s a novel thought.

David will come home from his FIRST day of teaching at the British Council and I’ll be waiting with a glass of wine for him and  – um…..bread.  There’s always bread in France. (Except during the Revolution some 300+ years ago).  Too bad I didn’t have the Saran Wrap………

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