24 February 2012


A few days ago, I mentioned that the right-wing Front National presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was asking the French Constitutional Council to do something about the problems she's having getting enough endorsements — 500 — to qualify for the ballot in May.

What she proposed was making the endorsements anonymous rather than publishing the names of the elected officials (there are some 47,000 of them, mostly mayors of towns and villages) who agree to "sponsor" her candidacy. As things stand, the names of the officials who sign an endorsement are published in the government's Journal Officiel a month before the election takes place.

The Constitutional Council decided to let the rule stand. Constituents of the "sponsoring" officials will be continue to be allowed to know who their representatives have endorsed for the presidency. Marine Le Pen still says she does not have enough endorsements to get her name on the ballot, and she has only a couple of weeks left to get them.

The weather has turned positively spring-like, with low temperature near 50ºF in the morning and high temperatures expected to approach 60 over the weekend. The price for that right now is low gray clouds and constant mist and drizzle. I'll take it— it's better than ice and snow.

Yesterday we drove down to Loches to do some shopping. That's something we wouldn't have tried to do two weeks ago, when the roads were ice-covered. By the way, to those who liked to shop there, I can report that the Halles et Champs produce/meat market near the Centre Leclerc has shut its doors and gone out of business.

My updated driver's license is in the works — I hope. I filled out the paperwork, scanned and printed copies of the required backup documents, and had "mug shot" pictures taken in one of those little Photomaton booths at the supermarket.

When I turned in the file at the village hall, the woman behind the counter asked me why I wanted an updated French driver's license. I explained about my periodic trips to the U.S. and how driver's licenses over there have more recent pictures on them than the 31-year-old photo on my French license, which was issued in 1981. That old license as has my old Paris address on it, from way back then.

You'd do better to keep the old French license and apply for an international license to go with it, the woman at the mairie told me. Problem is, the international license has to be renewed every three years. That's a hassle. It means more frequent mug shots — I assume the "informational" international license has a photo on it.

On this map I found on a French government web site, the
caption at the top says: "In red are the countries for which
an international driver's license is recommended."
Notice that the U.S. and Canada are not in red.

According to what I've read, the international license is just a translation of your official license and must be accompanied by the latter. If it's just a translation, then it will have the same address on it as my French license. My whole purpose in asking for a new French license was to get one with a more current photo and my current address on it — the same address that appears on my French carte de résident, my French and American bank accounts, and my credit cards.

The woman at the village hall was not particularly helpful. She said she would send my application off to the prefecture in Blois and see what the decision was. "Your old license is not in bad condition, and it obviously hasn't been lost or stolen," she said as I handed it over to her. "Normally, it's only replaced when it is damaged, lost, or stolen." Never mind that it said right on the form that you are allowed to request a new license if your name or address has changed.

It's been two weeks today and I'm still waiting.


  1. I just got my international license in the mail and it does have my current address on it, which does not correspond to the address on my French license dating from the 90's. The international license doesn't look very official, other than a few ink stamps that probably won't mean very much to the guys behind the Enterprise desk at the small Midwest airport I fly into each time I go back. They didn't like my French license last time back. Maybe because I look about 12 in the photo.

  2. We were at LeClerc and Gamm Vert yesterday [looking for peanuts for the birds] but didn't go up the road for Halls and Fields... it is a shame it has closed, but I am not at all surprised... with LeClerc just down the road, they were always going to struggle unless they found a niche market. Also, unless you lived in Perrusson and used the road directly past it, you were already parked outside LeClerc when you could actually see the top of the building and signage, so why get back in the car and drive up.
    We had all probably discovered it because, having chosen to live in a new country, we all tend to go and 'discover' places.
    Terre y Fruits in Descartes is very similar... but has chosen to sell and promote local produce [where possible] and has a good range of produce... it is always very busy when we drop in... now getting very difficult to park.

  3. Meredith, that thing about having different addresses on the two licenses was also something I wanted to avoid. Thanks for the information.

    Tim, good that you have the shop in Descartes then. What birds like peanuts? In our out of the shell?

  4. It is a bit odd, all of this license business. Does one regularly update the official papiers that is carried around? You'd think they'd want updated information on this kind of thing, wouldn't you?

  5. Judy, I don't know about cartes d'identité, which French people carry with them and seem to be more official than passports. Maybe somebody can tell us if they get updated with new photos periodically.

    Driver's licenses, I know, don't get updated ever. I've seen some that looked as if they came from the 19th century!

  6. I'm enjoying this saga. Of course if it were me I'd have Callie play tug-o-war with the license and explain to the woman that the dog ate it. Or have Bertie barf of it.

    Of course if you can't get this worked out and get pulled over here in the State, just call us. We'll come and get you out of jail. They would, of course, never believe you. hee hee

  7. We use shelled peanuts in a mesh cylinder. The goldfinches love them, as do tits and even the robin and sparrows. They weren't interested in summer though.

  8. All sorts of birds like them out of the shell... but don't feed them spring or summer as the young birds are thought to choke on a whole nut.
    We've currently got mesange's Blue and Great, goldfinch, greenfinch and robin [with a lot of wingflapping] using the peanut feeder... we will stop feeding them peanuts in March.

    The p-nuts in the shell can be necklaced together and the string hung down from a branch, hook or whatever. The tit's are the masters of this method and have been filmed hauling the string up in stages to the branch to make it easier to feed! Great potential entertainment. When I was young we had a Great tit that used this approach until the local Grey Squirrel started to nick the strings... so we got fed up with losing expensive nuts and stopped!

    The Red Sqirrels here are far less adventurous.

  9. The first Tim comment was Pauline on the laptop!

  10. Do you know yet which presidential candidate the mayors of Mareuil and St. Aignan have endorsed?
    Also, do you have a feel for which way locals in your area will vote?

  11. I got my license replaced because my old one was damaged and I had plastified it to keep it all together and that was a real no-no. I regretted having to give up my photo of when I was 21 and the address on rue des Carmes, where we lived for all of 6 months back in 1972.
    Anyway, a solution to your problem might be to forget your license in your pocket when you do the laundry.

  12. I hope this works out somehow and you get the new license. Time will tell. If it doesn't your old license will probably work...

    I had one international license done years ago and I sometimes take it with me just in case I might need it despite the fact it's expired.

  13. I agree with the Ohiofarmgirl that your chums Callie and Bertie might be able to help out!

    These shenanigans are what give the french people a bad reputation. Here in Oregon, once you move you've got only 30 days to make the trek to the DMV (Dep't of Motor Vehicles), stand in line, and fill out the application, and don't forget your checkbook!

    Mary in Oregon

  14. My CNI ( carte nationale d'identité ) is good for 10 yrs . Afterwards I have to go back to the French Consulate with a new picture for a new one - hopefully the new biometric one which the govt will start issuing this year IIRC. The first card is always free but if it is stolen or lost, I believe that I have to pay 25 Euros for a new one.

    I don't have to carry it but since I don't want to have 2 passports , I always have it on my trips overseas just in case I may need the help of the French Embassy or Consulate.

  15. Since I travel with an American passport I don’t see, as a dual national, the need to carry also a French passport. In 1999, I went for six months in France and the man at Dulles International Airport asked me if I had a visa. I said no, since I don’t need a visa to enter my country of origin. He said I would have problems [which I didn’t, by the way].
    So I decided — to be on the safe side — to update my French I.D. card. The one with a picture I could put my hands on was issued more than fifty years earlier, under the Vichy government! The nice lady I talked to at my local “mairie” told me that an I.D. never really expires, but she accepted my request. She added, “make sure you get back this old one, it is still good.” End of story!

    Same thing with a driver’s license. It never needs to be updated.

    Bonjour Cousine,
    I wrote my comment before I read yours. The fact that carte nationale d’identité is “good” for only ten years is only to get money in the State coffers. But the employee was formal, the I.D. card really never expires! LOL

  16. M Le Pen's problem with the system is that it is working like it's meant to. Kerry

  17. Hi CHM, thanks for that information. With the driver's license, renewal is completely optional. If you are driving in France and are stopped for any reason by a gendarme — there are often random stops to check licenses and insurance papers — the gendarme can look up your license number and see your driving record. The picture and the address on the license don't matter at all.

    But in the U.S., if you get stopped — and it happened to me in North Carolina a few years ago, not because I had done anything wrong, but "just because" — the highway patrolman would have had no way to look up my license. That's why I want one with a fairly recent picture and my current address on it. (When I was stopped in N.C. I still had a valid California license, so it wasn't an issue.)

    By the way, I talked to our neighbor the mayor yesterday and she said not to worry. The new license will be showing up any day now.

  18. Kerry, you are right, but the system certainly does favor establishment candidates and parties. Whether that's a good thing or not, I don't know. This week, Marine Le Pen said she has 445 or so promesses de signature — promised endorsements.

    Dean, no I don't know who our mayors have endorsed, if anybody, but you can be sure I'll be trying to find out in March, when the list of endorsers and endorsements is supposed to be published. The candidates have until March 16 to get their ducks in a row.

  19. You've got to love dealing with French clerks.

  20. I still use the driving licence (GB) I got in 1972... It was written by hand then, lol !

    As one of your friends wrote, our ID can be used for 10 years provided we don't move within these 10 years. Having one's ID renewed is only necessary when one leaves France to go over to some other Eupopean countries

    My dad who is turning 87 in March was told he didn't need to have his "carte d'identité" renewed when his ID expired" provided he didn't feel like or need to leave France...

    Moreover, the ID is not compulsory in France but it is in some European countries (among which Germany, Belgium, Spain...)



    Mary who has deleted her previous posts because of typos/des fautes de frappe :-)b!!!


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