Cérémonie

Posted in La France, Nice at 17:00

01/04/2011

Ma cérémonie d’accueil dans la nationalité française took place on Friday, in the palais préfectoral located in Vieux Nice. The “prefectoral palace” was formerly le palais des ducs de Savoie ; le palais des rois de Sardaigne. Just 150 years ago, Nice was not part of France, but part of the duchy of Savoy, which later became part of the kingdom of Sardinia, thus the dual names for the palace. Although the palace is open to visit a few times a year, I’d never been inside, so it was quite a treat to experience the richly decorated salle des fêtes (festivities hall) firsthand.

About a hundred brand-new French citizens residing in the département des Alpes-Maritimes had been invited to the ceremony, so it was quite large, and long. The sous-préfet began the ceremony with a nice speech, then we stood to sing La Marseillaise. After that, we were shown a short film entitled “Devenir Français”, which gave a very brief history of la République Française, the Déclaration des droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen, some background on the French republic’s values (and official motto) liberté, égalité, fraternité, an additional bit on laïcité, and finally, a rather jarring sequence of ground, air, and naval war scenes with running commentary about how we could be called to defend France.

Once the film had finished, we were each called by name to shake hands with the sous-préfet and our city’s representative, and receive our new papers. There was a verre de l’amitié (“friendship toast”) afterwards, but as we’d all arrived at 8:30am and I was finally called at 11am (they went in alphabetical order), I didn’t hang around to see how it went. Neither did many others – it was kind of a shame that they had invited so many of us at once, since a smaller group would have been more conducive to meeting people. Even the préfecture staff commented on how the group was a bit too large, so I got the sense that they’ll be on a smaller scale in the future.

Sunny weather

Posted in La France, Nice at 18:29

22/01/2011

While the Riviera is generally known for its sun and warmth, this winter has been exceptionally wet and dark. We went nearly two months without seeing blue skies or dry ground. This week it’s gotten better, and today was chilly but clear. While walking to a store this morning, I passed our Notre Dame, which was recently renovated for Nice’s 150th anniversary as part of France. There was a protest in front of it, not sure what for, but with my cameraphone’s blocky colors, it made for an interesting play of contrasts with the sun, sky, cream church, bronze-windowed shop building and black-winter-coat crowd.

The fact that I have French citizenship has finally been sinking in these past two weeks. No more yearly visits to the prefecture to renew residence; no more need to declare changes of address with them; no more running every decision through the filter of “as a non-EU citizen, do I have the right to do this, will it be more complicated, will it cause any problems”; and, I finally have the right to vote in national elections. I registered just in the nick of the time — there are only élections cantonales this year, but at least that way it’s done and I’ll be able to vote in les présidentielles de 2012. Kind of a funny coincidence in 2012, since the US presidential elections will also be held (I plan to vote in those too). French presidential elections are currently every 5 years, previously every 7, whereas US presidents are elected every 4, so it’s not common that they overlap. On the whole, I feel much more empowered and free — no longer having to worry about my non-EU-citizen status is more of a relief than I had expected.

Je suis Française

Posted in Biographical, Journal, La France at 16:53

Today I received a letter from the Ministère de l’intérieur, de l’outre-mer, des collectivités territoriales et de l’immigration that begins with: “J’ai le plaisir de vous faire savoir que vous êtes Française depuis le 13/12/2010.” Translated: “I am pleased to let you know that as of 13 December 2010, you are French.”

Nice Christmas present, eh!

I can now vote in French national elections, as well as European Union elections, and will no longer have to worry about ever-changing immigration laws for non-EU citizens (which I was, until the 13th of December). I have kept my US citizenship, mainly to continue voting and participating there as well, so I have dual nationality.