yesterday i spent a lovely day in lyon for my convocation OFII. this is a rendezvous at the local office of immigration to validate my visa, which must be done within the first 3 months of residence. i entered france with a visa mention: travailleur temporaire, which is valid by itself for 3 months. after that, it must be accompanied by a vignette that you receive at this appointment. when i arrived in france, i sent in some paperwork to the immigration office:
- a copy of the entry stamp i received when i crossed the border, as well as my passport identity pages
- the demand d’attestation OFII that i had stamped by the consulate at my visa appointment and was returned to me with my visa. after i arrived in france, i completed the lower portion with my current address.
- the convocation they sent you
- a passport photo. note: french passport photos are different from american passport photos. french ones are smaller. i had an american one. and i was wearing glasses (they ask for tête nu). neither was a problem.
- a justificatif de domicile. this could be an electric bill, a gas bill, a landline telephone bill, or a signed paper from your landlord (and a copy of their ID and an electric/gas/telephone bill in their name). i used an electric bill.
- they also ask for you to buy a timbre. this stamp costs 55€, but as teaching assistants, we were exempt. if you are a student or something else, you have to buy it.
- they don’t ask you to bring it, but it’s recommended to bring your vaccination records and copies of prescriptions. i don’t know about you, but i can’t remember the date of my last tetanus shot off the top of my head. you can get these easily from your doctor.
- they don’t ask you to bring it, but at the counter the lady asked to see a copy of my contract (to prove i was a teaching assistant and didn’t have to buy the timbre). i didn’t have one, and it wasn’t a big deal, but maybe just bring copies of everything pertaining to your being in france, just in case.
the appointment went like this: go inside and show the reception counter the convocation and your passport. sit and wait to be called. when your name is called, follow doctor #1 into room #1. she asks you some general questions- are you pregnant? is their diabetes in your family? and tests your eyesight. then you go into room #2. take your height and weight. my sister is diabetic, so they tested my blood sugar (it’s perfect). follow doctor #2 into room #3. take off your tops (and your bra) and walk topless into room #4. hold up your hair with your hands and press your naked body up against the x-ray machine. get dressed again and go back to the waiting room. if it sounds rushed, it’s because it was!
wait for a few minutes until you’re called again. follow doctor #3 into room #5. sit down. she asks you some questions- do you smoke? are you on medications? have you had any recent hospitalizations or operations? have you had a recent x-ray? then has you lay down on a bench. she pokes around at your belly and listens to your heart. takes your blood pressure and listens to your lungs. sit back down and looks at my vaccination record. no problems. hands me my chest x-ray and tells me my medical control is normal. go back and wait to be called again.
wait a few minutes, and when you’re called approach the reception desk. give her my passport, the photo, the convocation, and a justificatif. she glues the photo to the corner of my demande d’autorisation OFII. she kept the papers i gave her, so if you need the originals, make photocopies. hands me a certificat de control medical which says i fulfill the sanitary controls to be authorized to reside in france. she puts a fancy blue sticker with the french flag and the OFII seal in my passport and stamps it. i am now a legal foreigner. i can now move freely about the world.
total time in the office: 1 hour.
after the appointment, i had the rest of the day free. first i got a coffee at place carnot with another assistant and then walked her back to the train station. then it was time to explore! i did fourvière and parc de la tête d’or last time in lyon, so today was about shopping. first i went to centre commercial part-dieu, which is a mall. i wanted to go to the gap. i had no idea it was going to be wildly expensive- at least 150% of normal u.s. prices. i was disappointed. so i went to h&m and got a new dress!
i wanted to go to le vieux camper (like an REI) so i headed that way. little did i know, the store is split up into 6 little stores along one street. after a few false starts, i finally arrived at the store that had the clothes. another let down, a maze-like organization and nothing that i was looking for (i didn’t see a single piece of patagonia clothing). but it was a beautiful day, it was warm enough on the 1st of december to take off my jacket, and i was in lyon! no complaints.
then i went to check out the asian groceries in guillotière, supermarché asie and bahadourian. i wanted to see if they had maesri brand curry paste or chaokoh brand coconut milk. i found neither. but bahadourian was quite incredible! they had this big beautiful bulk section of dried fruits, candied fruits, olives, and a deli. they had these huge buckets of bulk spices (it smelled amazing)!
they had foods from all over the world- i even found betty crocker shake-and-make pancake mix and pop-tarts! no chipotle peppers, though… still hunting. i picked up some falafel mix to make later.
next stop: lunch. after leaving the ofii i had stopped at a bakery i’d read lovely things about- le garçon boulanger. i heard right- the baguette was amazing! carrying it around in my bag was making me hungry. i had wanted to check out the marché along quai victor augagner in the morning to pick up some cheese and maybe some charcuterie, but when i got there it had finished, so i stopped at a supermarché. i got some fromage à tartiner aux noix de dordogne (a soft, slightly sweet, spreadable cheese with walnuts), some ham, and a golden apple.
i wanted to pick up some wine at au bons vins de france, which i read about on an expat blog. they were closed for the mid-day break, so i wandered around a bit and hunted down a café. i got a demi and read the newspaper i had picked up on the train. it was a nice break in a cute café. the demi was expensive, but the ambiance made up for it. then i returned to au bons vins. the place is run by this adorable shuffling old man. they make wine in house, and i picked up a litre of nice rosé or only 2€20! you keep the bottle and bring it back, and he’ll refill it for only 1€60. wish it was just down the street!
the sun was starting to set, so i headed down to the quai with my picnic. it was quite beautiful, the sun setting, the banks of the rhône and hotel-dieu in the foreground, with fourvière hill in the background with its basilica and the mini tour eiffel. a perfect late lunch.
it was starting to get chilly, so i headed back to place carnot to stroll the christmas market.
it’s much bigger than in saint-etienne. lots of cute little shops selling trinkets, nativity scene figurines, jewelry, candles, soaps, hats, scarves, chocolates, gingerbread, foie gras, baba au rhum (a sweet cake soaked in alcohol), crêpes, gaufres (waffles), roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, hot cider, even hot orange juice.
there was one stall selling these amazingly detailed carved wooden trinkets, trolls and mushrooms and snails and fairies.
i tried some baba au rhum, au grand marnier, and au limoncello (very delicious but very strong!) i tried a little bit of mint chocolate made with olive oil. i got a crêpe à la farine de châtaigne au nutella (a chestnut-flour nutella crêpe), my first nutella since in france and sooo good. i even saw santa claus with his
reindeer goats with taped-on felt horns. it reminded me of max in ‘the grinch.’ terrible pictures, i know, but they were moving fast!
then i headed back to the train station, tired, full and happy. got on the train and immediately fell asleep. woke up (luckily) just as we were pulling into chateaucreux- had i continued sleeping, i would’ve ended up in firminy. ate the other half of my ham sandwich and went home. a good day in france.