20 March 2018

Contacting Officials

Contact with the préfecture can be an iffy thing. Last week, I missed a phone call - there was no message, and I almost let it go at that. But, I've been finding out that the French thing to do regarding phone calls is: if you call someone, you don't usually leave a message; if you miss someone's call, you call back. So, I called back - and found out it was the préfecture! I know this because when you call the Hérault préfecture (that's mine), you get a giant phone tree. Ack!

Because I am expecting a text message when my residency card arrives, I waited a few days - who knows? Maybe they'll send a text next! But no, no text. When my French friend offered to call for me, you know I jumped at the chance!

We tried yesterday. We tried this morning. We tried this afternoon. No joy. Finally, the "Welcome Guy" suggested using the contact feature* of the website - he said that the only time calls are accepted for carte de séjour questions is between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. They get 300, and can only handle 100!

We (that is my friend) sent a message; the auto-response indicates that in about 5 days, they'll write back...

* Hérault contact link:

17 March 2018

16 March 2018

Céret and Elne - France Day Trip

Tuesday, my Sète Accueil group went on a day trip to the much-farther-South of France, to Céret and Elne. Our bus left Sète at 8:00 am; we drove straight towards the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees, stopping at an aire for coffee, but making the Museum of Modern Art in Céret by 10:30 - this was our first stop in a *very* full day!***



Picasso's pottery

Picasso's Portrait of Jacqueline

Outside, nature's art

From Céret, we drove back over a marvelous stone bridge - I so wanted a picture of this! Imagine a multi-arched bridge over a gushing stream, with snow-covered peaks in the background! Between that, and the virtual forest of blooming mimosas and cherry trees, I would have stopped every 5 minutes for a photo! My fellow travelers don't know how lucky they were :-\

We went on to the Cathedral and Cloister in Elne, where I met my alter-ego, *Sainte* Julie...
Who, me?

Glass and metal fixtures (and a happy accident with a hand!)
This piece of art is a bit more interesting than you might think - many people take it for a tryptic, but in fact, it's a four-sided cabinet to hold the altar pieces. This is one of only three known in the world - the others are in Barcelona and Dallas!
Inside of the cabinet

Outside of the cabinet

From the cloister, we went to the Swiss maternity hospital - an iconic site which was a place of life and hope. From 1939-1944, the owner, Elisabeth Eidenbenz, rescued a thousand pregnant women from internment camps, saving the lives of almost 600 babies.

Somewhere in there, we stopped for lunch. Our menu included a French classic - Hog Jowls (joues de porc) :-)  We also had sangria, a salad, wine, and a dessert that I really couldn't fit, but also couldn't resist! It was a gâteau moelleux de poire, avec caramel au beurre salé (cake with pears and salty caramel) - omg! The wine was a specialty of the region, called banyuls - the grapes are put in a barrel and "cooked" by the sun (cuit au soleil).

We got back to Sète by 7:30pm - a very long day!

*** I only posted a small selection of photos from the trip here. See the album for more.