A new home

Author: fraise

Tuesday 23 February 2010, in Home improvement, La France, Nice

Art Deco lines
This will come as a bit of a surprise to readers, since I never mentioned it before, wanting to keep quiet until I knew for certain. This morning I had an interview for obtaining French citizenship at the préfecture in Nice. It went very well, and the préfet’s representative told me that there was no valid reason to refuse my application. In legal French, and in the context of the naturalisation for which I’d applied, this means it will be accepted by the Ministry in charge of naturalisations. That will take about a year, as the representative also told me.

Of his own accord, he also pointed out that the process had gone surprisingly fast. Indeed, I had applied around the start of November last year, and received notice of my interview at the end of January. The préfet’s representative explained that it was because the police investigation had gone quickly. “I can’t remember the last time I got a police report so soon after requesting one,” he laughed, then he asked me, “did the police ever contact you or visit you?” I answered “no, but I’m often in contact with them, ha! I have a dangerous neighbor, so I call them a lot.” Continuing with the joke, the man pulled out the police report and chuckled, “well, they say they have no idea who you are!” In French legalese, “ne pas être connu”, “to not be known” by the police means that you have no criminal record. The man interviewing me even added another layer of word play when he saw that I’d understood the joke, saying “et bien, on peut rajouter que le français ne vous est pas étranger !” In English, “well, I can add that French isn’t foreign to you!” It was nice to have met with someone easy-going.

That said, I’ve almost always dealt with easy-going public employees in France. At the tax office, train station (SNCF), post office (which is where I’ve met the grumpy ones), prefecture, city police, national police — they’ve nearly all been helpful and even funny. I’ll never forget the towering gendarme (national policeman) in my living room who, after he’d recognized my violent neighbor was indeed a danger to others, and after I’d showed photos of excrement she kept putting on my patio, said in his booming, authoritative voice, totally deadpan, “En effet. Mademoiselle, on peut dire que vous êtes dans la merde.” “Indeed. Miss, it could be said that you’re in a shitty situation.”

In addition to having a new home country, my home apartment became much more welcoming this weekend, with the addition of a sofa and two matching chairs, shown in this entry’s photo. On Saturday, I went to my favorite brocante, secondhand shop, to look for a small end table. In the window was a gorgeous forest green leather Chesterfield, but well out of my budget range. Further inside, I noticed a sofa and chairs set with oddly-styled arms; curved wood over an upholstered arm, but the wood “floated” over the upholstery. I love clean, curved lines on furniture. Furthermore, it looked like the pieces were narrow enough to fit through my living room door frame, which is just 75cm/30 inches wide. I checked their price, expecting something in the 300-500 euro range. 50 euros — fifty! “Oh dear, something must be terribly wrong with them,” I thought, and so I looked around the rest of the store. Finding no end tables I liked, I returned to the living room set. “At that price, I might as well try them out and check them over,” I told myself. They were in perfect condition, and incredibly comfortable, with firm springs. They were in such good condition, in fact, that I had no idea what period they could possibly be from, since they obviously weren’t contemporary, but not antique, either. I measured their depth: 70 centimeters (27″). Perfect. I bought them. Delivery cost as much as they did, and in another stroke of luck, I’d bought them ten minutes before the delivery van arrived for its afternoon round — they kindly delivered them the very same day!

Once home, I photographed the sofa and the two chairs, and submitted a question to one of my favorite sites, ApartmentTherapy. “What style are these chairs and sofa? Commenters all agreed: 1940s French Art Deco! My apartment building is Art Deco too, and was built in 1953. My living area truly is d’époque, period, and I didn’t even do it on purpose! I am very glad to finally have a couch after two years without, and the kitties are happy too.

9 responses to “A new home”

  1. Perrine Costa Says:

    Well done, you’re French! Je suis heureuse pour toi, you get what you deserve.
    Je prépare actuellement la démarche inverse, c’est-à-dire “devenir Américaine”. Ce sera un long parcours.

  2. Thierry Says:

    So in the end, how many verses of the Marseillaise did you have to sing? ;) Congratulations! We’ll have to go and celebrate that with Steven and William!

  3. Lisa Says:

    No way!!! I came over from your interview on expatinterviews.com, and then immediately recognized these chairs from the AT posting earlier this week! :) Glad to have found your blog…

  4. fraise Says:

    Thierry yes, I keep meaning to send you all an email, but I can’t reach Gmail from the office this week!! Hopefully I’ll have time this evening or tomorrow.

    I was surprised, I didn’t have to answer any questions about “la République”. After some basic questions (education, do I live in a French or foreign part of Nice, do I have French friends, is the company I work for French), he just asked me why I want French nationality. I had prepared to say something like “j’ai envie de voter, avoir une voix, participer à la vie démocratique à tous les niveaux,” mais comme le monsieur était sympa, en fait j’ai pas réfléchi et j’ai juste sortie “parce que j’adore la France !!” …puis j’ai pensé, merde, il faut quand même que je justifie ça, ha :D Alors j’ai parlé des valeurs et comment les Français les mettent en oeuvre, à la différence d’autres pays, et cetera. Ca lui a plu, évidemment :)

  5. Heather W. Says:


    Does this mean you’ll be an official French citizen? If you don’t mind my asking, how will this affect your American citizenship? I’m guessing the US just won’t recognize your dual citizenship, but you wouldn’t have to give up you American one. Just curious how it all works.


  6. Heather W. Says:

    P.S. When I first saw the title of your post I thought, she’s leaving her apartment? But why? She’s done so much work to make it her own! It made a lot more sense to me that you were going for naturalization. :)

  7. fraise Says:

    Heather yes, I’ll have French citizenship. Naturalisation is just a different process than for those who acquire the nationality by marriage.

    It won’t affect my US citizenship at all. There are quite a few French-US dual citizens. Info here: http://www.frenchlaw.com/Immigration_Visas.htm
    I’ll just have to be sure to use my US passport when travelling to the US, and my French passport pretty much everywhere else (French citizens have it a lot easier than US citizens in several countries…)

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Felicitations! Glad to hear you’re finally able to get your carte d’identité. And welcome to the dual national club! Although I’m surprised when you say that naturalisation is different when you go through the préfecture as opposed to marriage. I acquired mine through the Tribunale du Grande Instance in Paris when I was married, but my papers still use the word “naturalisation”.

    And the fact that you’re getting your citizenship within a year going through the préfecture is *quite* amazing. When I applied for mine (1997-1998), the Tribunale process was about 13 months, and about 5 years through the Préfecture de Paris.

  9. fraise Says:

    The difference is made on the Service-Public site and others I’ve consulted. It’s probably a difference in process and the same forms are used for both:
    naturalisation: http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/F2213.xhtml
    acquisition de la nationalité française par mariage: http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/F2726.xhtml

    Naturalisation is quicker than acquiring the nationality by marriage since they don’t have to verify the marriage itself. Also, applications from people who want/hope to go the naturalisation route but who are married to French citizens, are nonetheless sent through the “acquisition par mariage” process.

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