The madness of French bureaucracy, extended edition

Yesterday, something incredible happened. A woman turned to me in an office, nodded, looked into my eyes and said “ça marche. Quinze jours”. She gave me a look of intense respect, something like an acknowledgement of a cultural coming of age. I had just achieved the impossible. I had just managed to get French social security.

I have been trying to get the ‘aide du logement’ (help with rent) since I arrived in France in October. I had given them:

– a passport copy
– a ‘RIB’, a sheet containing bank details
– an ‘attestation du travail’, confirming I had a job
– an application form with my salary details, income for 2008, name, age etc
– a form from my landlady specifying the exact size, facilities, and location of my flat.

This did not suffice.

They also required evidence of medical insurance (why?) and three months worth of payslips. I finally delivered these, and BOOM, that’s basically my entire rent paid for the month. That’s the thing, you see. French social security is so good that it’s worth going through the reams of paper, endless phonecalls and emails to no one, and intermittent feelings of hopelessness.

Today I walked down some godforsaken road ironically called the ‘Avenue des droits d’homme’ to the MGEN, or teachers’ health insurance office. I walked around half an hour having taken a 40 minute bus ride from my school. As I walked I thought, “No, it’s worth it, walking down this dual carriageway in the rain, it is your goddamn French RIGHT to get all those doctors’ appointments and prescriptions ‘remboursé’.” I’m a sucker for free things. Give me a scan of my left arm gratuit and I’ll be happy for a month. France is not the best place for me, given this habit. I am all too often indulged.

Once I got to the MGEN, somewhere near a roundabout near Montargis, I filled in another three extremely long forms. I traipsed back, feeling that the 100 € fee perhaps dented the feeling of getting something for nothing, but being a hypochondriac I have already made that amount since being here.

One final, amazing fact. There is a type of welfare in France called the ‘intermittent du spectacle’. It is designed for actors, dancers, and other ‘creatives’ who may work for three months and then having nothing to pay the rent for the next two. The intermittent du spectacle basically gives them an allowance in these interim months, so they don’t have to work in horrible service industry jobs like the rest of the world, and can instead relax and ponder higher things. Can you imagine if we had this in the UK? The Daily Mail readership would all spontaneously combust, leaving little left of our dear island.

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One Comment on “The madness of French bureaucracy, extended edition”

  1. Dinotron Says:

    I feel like you wrote this for my personal benefit. Intermittent du spectacle? MONTARGIS? (RUDE of you to walk all the way here from Orleans and not even say hi…)

    Felicitations x


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