Marseille – The Arrival

The post title is taken from the name of the first chapter of Alexander Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo. I believe we will fare better than Edmond Dantès.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ze papers

Our first run at getting the visas began early in the year, on February 2. Not surprisingly, our applications were incomplete: the French officials claimed the documents  permitting the boys to live in France were insufficient. We would have to go to court to get a more specific order. In addition, we did not yet have a place to live: a definitive address is a requirement for visa approval.

It took until mid-June to finally get the required court order from California. It took until mid-August before we finally located a place to stay (not easy over the internet).  Our second appointment for our long stay visa applications was on Thursday, August 25th. Everything seemed to go very well; we had all but two of the requested documents. Two days later Annie and I faxed in the missing documents; then, just to be sure, we dropped off hard copies.

Four weeks later, on Friday, September 23rd, more than eight months after  the process began, after spending thousands of dollars in legal fees and visa fees, and after many miles driven while we waited, our visas were approved. The letter from the French Embassy came to my sister’s home; Courtenay called me immediately.  Annie and I were in a bit of shock. The letter itself was almost anti-climatic (see image below).

Panic

The tempo of our lives went from something like A Theme From A Summer Place to The Sabre Dance. There were bags to pack, arrangements to be made, plane tickets to purchase. Of course, a day or two after we received our approval, our landlady in France, Barbara emailed me saying they were doing a bit of work on the apartment, and it would not be ready until mid-October. The last thing we wanted to do was continue to be Vagabonds. I emailed Barbara asking if we could come sooner, and stay in their other apartment (Barbara has two properties, both of which were vacant). Barbara agreed, and a crisis was averted.

Annie found some great deals on both Cheapoair and SkyScanner – both are highly recommended. We decided she would flyover with the kids, while I stayed behind to take care of things here, and do a bit of work (see below).

Leav’n on a jet plane

Too quickly for me the departure date was here. Annie and the kids left on a Tuesday evening from Dulles. They flew British Airways to London, changed airports (Heathrow to Gatewick), and caught the flight to Marseille. They arrived just fine, late Wednesday afternoon. Since then I have been in Annapolis. I hope to be heading to New Hampshire to work on an interesting project; I’ll go to France for a few weeks in late November, then return to finish up the project.

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