This news dates back a week and a bit. At the beginning of this year, I received a letter inviting me to pick up my 10-year residency card at the prefecture in Auxerre. While I was still on holidays I decided to drive the 50 km into town to pick it up. The office hours are from 1:30-4:00 pm (so very practical!) and so I got there around 3:15, thinking that I had plenty of time. They told me that they were no longer giving out numbers because there were too many people. I wasn't the only one wanting a number, so I thought I'd bring out my inner French complainer and told them that I was just there to pick up a card (how long could it take?) and that I had driven 50 km just for this card - plus they were supposed to be open until 4pm... Luckily for me and the other two guys also hoping to get in line, a worker came back and said that the numbers could be given out again. I waited my turn, signed a form, handed over my fiscal stamps (162€) and I got this puppy which is good until October 2022.
The guy asked me about my education, work, associations I belong to (I had to scramble for that one!) and he duly noted down all the answers. I then was given a paper with two sections that I had to sign: one that said that I'm not currently living in polygamy and another saying that I will not live in polygamy in the future. He then told me I'd have a written test to see if I was integrating into French culture. Here's a sampling of the questions along with my answers.
1. name two specialties of French cuisine (mains dishes or desserts)
- boeuf bourguignon and crème brûlée (we do live in Burgundy, after all!)
2. name a French singer
- Johnny Hallyday (I stayed with a safe choice)
3. name a French athlete (help, I don't watch sports!)
- Zidane (he was the only one I could think of, and I'm not even sure he's 100% French!)
4. where is it illegal to drink? (I had to think about this one - it seems you can drink anywhere!)
- while driving
5. what's the speed limit on routes (I had to ask if it was outside city limits)
- 90 km/h
6. what's the river running through Auxerre (luckily Jean-Marc is interested in rivers!)
7. name a person who has influenced the history of France
- Napoleon (which one, Jean-Marc later asked! Erm... )
8. how is the president of the republic elected (huh? By election? No, that's too simple)
- the answer is 'suffrage universelle' but I wrote election/vote. I had honestly never heard that term before, or if I had at one point I never clued in!
9. do men and women have the same rights in France?
- yes! (although it's kind of hard to get your maiden name to stick)
I can't remember the other questions, but you get the picture. I figure I got 19/20, with my only slip being that election question. I'm just glad they didn't ask me the words to the Marseillaise! Although I think that might be coming next year when I ask for my French nationality and passport (something I'm planning on doing, just to make things less complicated and less expensive - but I'm still keepin my Canadian passport, don't worry).
I had better start studying!