Sunday, 1 June 2008

On Being French

Here are the children's new French passports

and LissaLou posing nicely with hers. Couldn't get CassCass or Baby JoJo to be so accommodating.

The guy who issued them recommended that I take a copy of Bertie's passport if travelling on my own with the kids. I assured him that there was very little likelihood of me doing so! I could just use their UK passports, but I have been reliably informed that if entering a country for which you have a passport, you should use that one and not any other. But how they know if you don't adhere to this, I have no idea.

The French passport is not only (as my loyal readers will know only too well) cheaper, but much more interesting that ours. Firstly, it is much more detailed. Why they consider it necessary to note that Baby JoJo is 0.55 cm and has blue eyes I have no idea! But they do. Furthermore, rather than just having blank pages, each page has a picture, starting with France, then the various continents, then each of the French regions, of which there are 23 I think. Guadeloupe comes under one of four DOMS (department d'outre mer) which are on one of the final pages (it's the island on the top right):

A bit of education for anyone who is interested. France is separated into regions (ie Basse Normandie, Ile de France, Bretagne, Champagne...) which are then split into a number of departments. For example, Basse Normandie (where I studied and met Bertie) is made up of Calvados (14), La Manche (50) and L'Orne (61). Each department has their own number which appears in various places; the final digits on car number plates show you where the owner lives, whilst the National Insurance number reveals in which department the person was born. Some people (no names mentioned, Mum and Bertie!) manage to learn all the numbers (they go up to 100!) and then spend car journeys on holiday guessing where each car is from...

Guadeloupe is a department and its number is 971. The other DOMs are Martinique two islands away (972), Guyane in the north of South America (973) and La Reunion in the Indian Ocean (974). As a department, they have exactly the same status as all the departments in mainland France (France metropoliataine), including the Euro!

Back to legal documents! As well as passports, each French citizen has an ID card - as a non-French citizen living there for more than 3 months, I will have to get a Carte de Sejour, which is similar. We haven't got ID cards for the kids yet but will sort that out over there. I hardly need to add that they cost...absolutely nothing.

And here is our Livret de Famille, for which there is no equivalent in the UK, but as far as I can understand is very useful for identification purposes.

1 comment:

Giulietta said...

I think I need a refresher course on the car numbers...