Well, I'm reluctant to say that I had a successful trip to the Préfecture, because I fear this will be a repeat of yesterday when I thought "the cat hasn't pissed on my stuff for ages, she must be used to me or something" and then that very night found she had pissed on my newly-changed bed. (And the Préfecture would just love to metaphorically piss all over me I'm sure.) So let's say I had an untraumatic time at the Préfecture and we'll see where it goes from there.
Got up bright and early, same time I get up for work - mysteriously, had no problems getting out of bed first go, whereas it usually takes about 3 snoozes before I can drag myself up of a workday (and then I wake up more or less the same time on the weekend, sigh) - in order to get to the Préfecture when it opened at 8.30. Turned up at about 8.20 and the line was MASSIVE, down the block. There *was* a line, but then once the doors opened, everyone just piled in with gay abandon anyway, so being in the line was actually a dumb move because everyone not in the line just went around the outside. Luckily, however, 90% of them were there for a 'carte grise' which I think is vehicle registration, must expire at the end of the month I suppose.
Thus, not a long wait. Oh, I haven't said what I was there for - foreign types have a year in which you can drive on your foreign licence in France, then you have the opportunity to swap it for a French licence. If you don't do this within a year, you have to go through the French system, which involves tests (obviously) and compulsory 20 hours of professional driving lessons, which as you can imagine, is cher. I haven't driven here yet, nor am I planning to (poor parking skills, inability to drive a manual despite having taken about 12 lessons in one, fear of crazy Frenchies) but I think the opportunity to get my greasy mitts on a French licence should not be passed up.
Had anticipated problems owing to having a British passport and a NZ licence (I have an NZ passport too, but no visa in it obviously), but before we got to that whole explanation, the first hurdle was actually that the lady looked in a big book and was all 'no exchange for NZ licences' and I was all 'Mais, si' and then she sent me upstairs to someone else who confirmed that yes, there is an exchange agreement with NZ. Then he asked for evidence of my 'stay in NZ', at which I looked blank until he said 'to prove you didn't go there just to get a licence'. I say if you go to NZ for the sole purpose of getting your hands on a NZ driver's licence (and you're not a member of Mossad), you should be given special points for effort, not penalised. Anyway, waved my other passport and explained I was a New Zealander really, and that seemed to be that.
Sent back downstairs, sweet-talked the lady at reception into photocopying some stuff for me (only fair, I triple-checked the requirements listed on the website and it said nothing about bringing photocopies) and then dropped off my 'dossier' with lady #1, who at least had the grace to say she needed a new book (I imagine I'm the first New Zealander to ask). In and out in an hour exactly... So now, all that remains (supposedly) is to wait 2-3 months for my shiny new French licence! Complete with horrible photo, despite the fact that I primped myself specially for the occasion :( In reality, however, I'm waiting for something to come in the mail saying that, although I did in fact give them everything they asked for the first time, actually I also need to supply x, y, and z, which I don't actually have (carte de séjour, anyone?) Fingers crossed!
PS hey blogspot, Zealander is not a spelling mistake!