Downtime

K: After all the excitement of the past few weeks, everything feels like it’s just stopped. I know the agents are all doing their bit behind the scenes, and I’m hoping that we’re still on track for the beginning of July to receive the keys. We’ve pencilled in the last 10 days of July to make a start with the move – which is probably not the best time in the world… summer holidays and just before the whole of France shuts down for a month.

I’ve also been working on some practical stuff – bank accounts, cars and car insurance to be precise. When we move temporarily to Wales, then Bromley (so Phill can finish off his contracts in London), we’re going to need a second car for him to get about. So, it makes sense to buy a car which we can use when we move to France. Our investigations have highlighted that it is not easy or cheap to get a UK car registered in France, so our original idea  of taking our existing 4×4 over is not going to work.

We’re also going to try to spend at least one week a month in France between getting the keys and moving permanently (pencilled in for the second half of November), so it would also be quite handy to have a car in France that we can keep at the airport (one of my perks is heavily discounted airport parking at Toulouse airport) so we don’t have the cost of car hire for those week-long visits.

After initial internet searches suggested that it would be quite easy to get a left hand drive car, reality has started to hit.  As I mentioned, the process to re-register a car in France is very complicated. And I can only drive it in France on UK (or any other country) plates for 6 months. So, we thought we’d look for a French-registered car, and make sure it was taken out of the UK within 6 months (as the same rules apply here). BUT… we cannot get UK insurance for our French registered car, so cannot drive it here! The only solution is to get insurance in France, for the French car, currently based in UK, requiring a French bank account.

My learning curve for this bit was extremely steep – of course nothing is simple. After weeks of searching, the (practically) perfect car appeared last Thursday on eBay, which resulted in frantic calls to a French bank I’d been considering for a while, and scans of all the relevant documents whizzing across the channel by email. Fortunately, the nice people at Credit Agricole have realised about a sixth of the UK population actually lives in France and have set up an English speaking department and website! So, that made the frantic a little less so.

Factor into my stress levels this week my losing my work id, which prevented me from going to Johannesburg, and which necessitated a morning driving around Heathrow airport in an attempt to obtain a new one in the most ridiculously convoluted system, only for the id to turn up tucked inside a tissue box in my car a day later. I ended up flying off to Madras instead (which is where I write this), with the treat of a nice little return sector as a passenger (fingers crossed in Club!)

The packing begins in earnest on Tuesday, after our farewell drinks in the garden on Monday.

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