Ginger and Nutmeg

Find Out Why You Need Patience at the Sous Préfecture in Provence

Nutmeg is self-admittedly not a patient person. She develops a plan, does not appreciate too much external input, and certainly is not thrilled when there is a proposed change. Living in France, with life at a slower pace, has helped with her natural inclination somewhat. Although, Ginger is certain that she may never be fully cured of her affliction.

Welcome to the ultimate lesson in patience, a heavy dose of bureaucracy, mountains of paperwork and long queues. Welcome to the world of the sous-préfectures (home of French Administration)! Nutmeg has had the pleasure of visiting a couple of these offices while in Provence, the location in Aix-en-Provence and equally attractive Arles office.

The local sous-préfecture is where one goes in France, to complete the paperwork process for car ownership, vehicle transfer etc.. Proof of ownership of a vehicle in France is your Carte Grise. Ginger and Nutmeg were moving locations and their Carte Grise had to be updated to reflect their new address for insurance purposes. Thankfully, a friend had forewarned Nutmeg that the wait is always long and often requires a second visit.  He was right!

  • Two visits
  • Four hours of waiting
  • Ten minutes with the officials
  • One new Carte Grise with all the updated details

The sous-préfecture is also the place you must visit for long-stay visa paperwork. The office is only available to the public Monday to Friday from 8:15 – 12:15, except for the days when it is closed for holidays or the other days that it closes, just because. It is difficult to determine the best strategy. Arrive early? Arrive late? Put your head in the sand? Ginger and Nutmeg had to renew their visa paperwork and decided on the “arrive early” strategy. One Monday morning at 8:32 am, they withdrew queue ticket numbers 353 & 354 from the machine. There were 46 people ahead of them in line!!

…Continue reading here for the original Ginger & Nutmeg article to learn about the Sous Préfecture a place where you must visit, more than once, if you plan on living in Provence for an extended period. This is the place you go to get your care licensed and apply for long-stay visas. If you are planning to visit the local Sous Préfecture, steady your mind and your patience for a long and most likely uncomfortable wait.

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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