Exchanging an Australian driver licence for a French licence

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A driver licence issued by a country outside France is only recognised for one year once the person acquires “normal residence” in France, normal residence being defined as the place in which you live for at least six months (185 days) a year due to professional or personal attachments. If you are a foreign student in France, however, you can drive with your non-European licence during your studies.

Who qualifies?

To qualify, your licence must be valid and issued by the country in which you had normal residence at the time.

If you have an existing driver’s licence that is less than three years old then your newly issued French licence will also be a probationary one until a three-year period has elapsed.

When to apply?

You can apply to exchange your licence between the 6th month of your stay in France and before the 18th month depending on when you acquire “normal residence”. The application has to be made less than one year after your Carte de Séjour is issued.

It’s best to start the process a couple of months ahead of time as some documents may require a little time to acquire.

What do I need?

An Australian driving record or traffic history and a driver licence

First you will need an Australian driving record or traffic history, which is normally only available to the driver themselves. It can be ordered on-line but must be sent to an Australian address usually the last one on record. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to officially change your address to an address in Australia where the record can be sent. The system is different for each state. All the relevant links are given at the end of this post.

Translation into French

You will then need to have your licence and driving record/history translated by a court-certified translator. The official list can be found on the Court de Cassation website https://www.courdecassation.fr/informations_services_6/experts_judiciaires_8700.html#experts.

This is the official list of certified translators in France. All other lists are usually agencies in disguise. Translation agencies cannot be certified themselves, only the individual translators who carry out the work which is usually outsourced.

You can have the translation carried out by a translator living anywhere in France. There are no fixed prices for certified translations in France so they can vary considerably. You will need to take your licence and history to the translator in person or send them a good quality scan by email or a colour photocopy by post. A good quality scan means that it must be done with a scanner/photocopier and not a phone unless you have a special app.

Translators usually ask to be paid in advance by bank transfer, PayPal, etc. The translation is sent back by post. I personally prefer the “lettre suivie” solution. A sticker costs about 40 centimes and means you can track the letter which will be deposited in your mail box and not have to be collected at the post office if you’re not home, like a registered letter (lettre recommandée) does.

Two application forms are to be filled in

1)  Licence exchange application form (purple form – cerfa 14879*01)

Cerfa form 14879*01 available on https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/R31381. See below on how to fill out the form.

How to fill out cerfa 14879*01

Tick box n° 2 : échange d’un permis délivré par un état n’appartenant ni l’UE ni à l’EEE

NOM DE NAISSANCE [BIRTH NAME (i.e. surname, family name, maiden name, NOT MARRIED NAME)]

PRENOMS [Given names, in the order on your birth certificate, don’t use initials]

NOM D’USAGE [family name you usually use i.e. an alias or a married name if that is what you usually use. N.B. Women in France NEVER lose their maiden name. The use of their married name is a custom only.]

DATE DE NAISSANCE [Date of birth: day, month, year]

COMMUNE DE NAISSANCE [Place of birth – commune is just another name for municipality ;    Département (irrelevant)]

PAYS [country if you weren’t born in France]

COMPLEMENT D’ADRESSE [extra information, such as floor, stairs, appartment no etc.]

CODE POSTAL [Post Code]                                      COMMUNE [Town]

COURRIEL [Email address]

______________________________________________________________

Nationality(ies) when licence granted:  o  French  o other  Current nationality(ies):  o French o Other

Country in which licence to be exchanged was issued  ……… Issue date ………  Licence n° ……..

Next comes a table listing the European licence classes you have obtained:

AM, A1, A2, A, B, BE, B1, C1, C1E, C, CE, D1, D1E, D and DE

This means that most Australian licences are either French Class A (motorcycle) or Class B (ordinary motor vehicle).

MAIN DRIVING CLASS EQUIVALENTS : AUS C = FR A and AUS R = FR B

For more information and other classes, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_driving_licence

You then need to fill out the date on which the licence was granted (date d’obtention), the département code (which does not concern you) and the date of expiration (date de validité).

On the right, there are two boxes to tick

o Je m’oppose à la réutilisation de mes données personnelles à des fins autres que celles pour lesquelles, elles sont collectées [I do not wish to have my personal information reused for purposes other than those for which they are collected].

o Je soussigné(e), le (la) déclarant(e), atteste sur l’honneur que les renseignements de la présente demande sont exacts, et ne pas faire l’objet sur le territoire de l’État, de la collectivité d’Outre-mer ou de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, qui a délivré le permis de conduire, d’une mesure de restriction, de suspension, de retrait ou d’annulation du droit de conduire.

[I, the undersigned, the informant, declare on my honour that the information contained in this application is correct that my driver licence has not been restricted, suspended, withdrawn or cancelled in the territory of the State, Overseas Authority or New Caledonian authority that issued the driving licence. (The bits about Overseas and New Caledonia do not apply to Australians).]

Fait à [enter town in which you signed] le (enter date of signature)

Then sign inside the box below using black ink and keeping your signature within the box.

You then need to stick your photo inside the box using double-sided adhesive tape NOT STAPLES.

The second table is used FOR THE ADMINISTRATION to fill in any endorsements.

Applicant’s copy

Now fill in the second page in the same way or photocopy or scan the first page as it is the applicant’s copy.

2) Application for a European format licence (apricot form – cerfa 14848*01 Réf 06)

Cerfa 14848*01 Réf 06  available on https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/R32666. See below on how to fill out the form.

How to fill out Cerfa 14848*01

Numéro NEPH – Administration only

MOTIFS (REASON FOR APPLICATION)

Tick box : o demande de permis de conduire par échange

NOM DE NAISSANCE [BIRTH NAME (i.e. surname, family name, maiden name, NOT MARRIED NAME)]

PRENOMS [Given names, in the order on your birth certificate, don’t use initials]

NOM D’USAGE [family name you usually use i.e. an alias or a married name if that is what you usually use. N.B. Women in France NEVER lose their maiden name. The use of their married name is a custom only.]

DATE DE NAISSANCE [Date of birth: day, month, year]

COMMUNE DE NAISSANCE [Place of birth – commune is just another name for municipality ;    Département (irrelevant)]

PAYS [country if you weren’t born in France]

COMPLEMENT D’ADRESSE [extra information, such as floor, stairs, appartment no etc.]

CODE POSTAL [Post Code]                                      COMMUNE [Town]

COURRIEL [Email address]

Je soussigné(e), le (la) déclarant(e), atteste sur l’honneur que les renseignements de la présente demande sont exacts [I, the undersigned, the informant, declare on my honour that the information contained in this application is correct]

FAIT À [enter town in which you signed] Le (enter date of signature)

Then sign inside the box below using black ink and keeping your signature within the box.

Représentant legal: This section is used if you are a guardian applying for a ward.

You then need to stick your photo within the box using double-sided adhesive tape NOT STAPLES.

You then need to stick your photo inside the box using double-sided adhesive tape NOT STAPLES.

At the end there is a box to tick:

Je m’oppose à la réutilisation de mes données personnelles à des fins autres que celles pour lesquelles, elles sont collectées (I do not wish to have my personal information reused for purposes other than those for which they are collected).

Followed by information on the French law concerning Data Processing, Data Files and Individual Liberties

Other documents required for the application:

  • Colour photocopy of the back and front of your driver licence
  • Photocopy of your ID other than a driver licence (both biometric and non-biometric passports are accepted)
  • Photocopy of proof of domicile (electricity, gas or phone bill) with your name on it. If your name isn’t on the account, apply to do so.
  • If you have more than one passport, photocopy of proof of residence in Australia at the time the licence was issued (e.g. registration with consulate, payslips and work contract, school/university reports, etc.)
  • Driving history (ORIGINAL not a copy) less than 3 months old from the country that issued the licence
  • Photocopies of proof of normal residence in France on the date on which the application is submitted (carte de séjour, for example)
  • Photocopy of proof of the date of arrival in France (e.g. airline ticket, French social security membership, etc.)
  • Official translation (original) of your driver licence (you have to send the official translation which will be stapled to a photocopy of your licence, not the actual licence)
  • 3 photos (two of which are stuck to the forms). Write your family name, given names and date of birth on the back of the photos.
  • For truck licences or if your licence has been suspended, a medical check-up must be carried out with a local approved medical practitioner (list on prefecture website)
  • If you live in Corsica or certain French overseas territories, a regional tax must be paid by check
  • 1 post-paid envelope lettre suivie (enveloppe pré-affranchie tarif lettre) 50 g « prêt à poster »), with your name and address.

All incomplete applications will be sent back to the applicant.

Where do I send the documents?

If you live in Paris, send BY POST ONLY to:

Préfecture de Police de Paris

DPG / SDCLP

Centre de ressources des échanges de permis de conduire étrangers et des permis internationaux de conduite (Crepic)

1 bis rue de Lutèce

75 195 Paris Cedex 04

If you don’t live in Paris, send BY POST ONLY to:

CERT EPE

TSA 83529

44035 NANTES CEDEX 01

What happens next?

After your application is examined, you will be systematically asked to provide your original licence.

You will be contacted by the authority concerned and issued a certificate of secure deposit (ADS) for your Australian driver licence.

You can use the ADS to drive while waiting for your French licence to issued, within the limit of the date of expiration of your Australian licence.

How long will it take?

The processing time will vary according to the complexity of your application and mainly depends on how long it takes to check your right to drive (driving history).

How can you track your application?

You can write an email or phone CERT de Nantes – Suivi de l’échange du permis de conduire

By email : cert-pc-epe-44-usagersEPE@interieur.gouv.fr

By phone : 02 55 58 49 00

If you move during the process

Email the above address, together with a pdf version of proof of domicile and the ADS (i.e. interim licence) or, if you haven’t received the ADS, your birth name, given names, date of birth and nationality of the licence.

The French licence is then posted to your home address.

What sort of licence will I get?

The licence is not probationary unless the original licence is less than 3 years old.

The issue date indicated on the licence is the issue date of the French licence. The licence is valid for 15 years from the issue date (except when a medical check-up is needed, for drives of HGVs for example).

If you would like me to translate your documents, you can phone 06 76 41 99 43 or write to kneipp@kneipp-traduction.com. To know more about me professionally, you can check out my website www.kneipp-traduction.com.

Good luck!

All information taken from the official government site https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1460, verified in July 2019.

LINKS TO OBTAIN AN AUSTRALIAN DRIVING HISTORY/TRAFFIC RECORD

NSW https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/request-driving-record

QLD https://www.service.transport.qld.gov.au/applyformytraffichistory/public/Welcome.xhtml?dswid=-9714

VIC https://billing.vicroads.vic.gov.au/driverhistory

SA https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/driving-and-transport/licences/drivers-licence/check-your-driving-history

WA http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/rsd_help/index_2073.aspx

TAS https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/registration/information/search_applications

ACT https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/1581/~/act-driver-licence-information#!tabs-7

NT https://nt.gov.au/driving/driverlicence/renew,-change-or-update-your-licence/apply-for-your-driver-licence-history

Posted in Certified translation, French customs | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Lunch View – Vue de table

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We celebrated Jean Michel’s birthday today at L’Orangerie in Blois and this was our view.

Nous avons fêté l’anniversaire de Jean Michel aujourd’hui à l’Orangerie à Blois et voici la vue depuis notre table.

Posted in Blois, Restaurants | Tagged | 3 Comments

Oyster Season Again – Les huîtres sont de retour

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Posted in Food | Tagged | 1 Comment

Wait for the Ice Saints – Il faut attendre les saints de glace

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There is a saying in France that you have to wait until after the ice saints – 11th, 12th and 13th May (Mamert, Pancrace and Servais) before you plants tomatoes and flowers like Busy Lilies. Well my tomatoes are fine because they are in the laundry but not the Busy Lizzies or the plumbago in the barrow. Sigh.

Cette année je n’ai pas écouté le dicton qui dit qu’il faut attendre les saints de glace le 11, 12 et 13 mai avant de faire les plantations d’été. Mes impatiences ont souffert ainsi que le plumbago dans la brouette mais pas les tomates qui sont à l’abri. Oh la la!

Posted in Flowers & gardens | Tagged | 4 Comments

Why must birth certificates in France be less than 3 months old?

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Most foreigners living in France are asked at some stage to deliver a full birth certificate that is less than 3 months old. Why three months?

If you’ve even seen a French birth certificate of someone who has been married, you will understand why.

French birth certificates are “annotés” which means that any change in civil status is recorded on the birth certificate itself – marriage, civil union, separation, divorce, remarriage, death … It’s like a personal history rather than a record of a single event. This is also the purpose of the livret de famille*.

As a result, the French authorities always ask for a recent certificate, which is defined as less than 3 months old. Birth certificates are obtained from the town hall of the place of birth and are free of charge. You simply send a photocopy of your identity card and a stamped addressed envelope with a cover letter saying who you are and what you want and they usually arrive in a few days. You can also go to the town hall in person. Since February 15th 2019, birth certificates can also be obtained in multilingual versions (i.e. all the languages of the European Union).

In most countries other than France, birth certificates are not annotated. As a result, there is no reason to submit a certificate of less than 3 months, nor a translation of less than 3 months. Unfortunately, a lot of authorities are not aware of this. I am a sworn translator (Orléans Appeal Court) and have just translated a UK birth certificate for a British citizen who is getting married in a neighbouring town in the Loire Valley because the local town hall simply knows nothing about the regulations and my client doesn’t want to mess around.

I have personally used the same Australian birth certificate for countless cartes de séjour, two marriages, one divorce and a successful application for French citizenship. Each time, I explained that “les actes de naissance en Australie ne sont pas annotés.”

On the French official website service-public.fr, it says:

Un acte de naissance, de mariage ou de décès demeure valable tant que les éléments qui y figurent n’ont pas été modifiés.  https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F10449. i.e. a birth, marriage or death certificate remains valid as long as the information given in the certificate has not been modified.

So that, theoretically, is all you have to quote to an authority that asks for a certificate less than 3 months old. Good luck!

*livret de famille: this is a little booklet you are given when you marry. It is added to each time you have a child. It also records divorces and deaths.

Posted in French customs, Sworn translation | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Happy New Year 2019

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This is my absolute last chance to write my New Year post and wish you all a wonderful 2019, as tomorrow is the first day of February. I have an exciting year ahead – I am going to retire on 30th June (although I shall keep up my certified translations for a few more years). Retirement will, I hope, give me more time to blog.

The view from our rental in Senglea

Travel continued to play a big role in our lives this year, with our first trip away in February, to the island of Malta, where we stayed in a flat called Marine View in Senglea with a most stunning view both day and night. There were many interesting places to visit and the weather was wonderful, but Cyprus, where we went last year, remains my favourite Mediterranean island.

Château de Chambord in the snow

A snowfall on our return provided the occasion for my most stunning photo yet of Château de Chambord which remains high on the list of our cycling destinations in summer and a great place to walk in the winter.

The bridge between La Rochelle and Ile de Ré

In April we went to La Rochelle for a long week-end and had a truly unforgettable experience at Christopher Coutanceau’s 2-star Michelin restaurant followed by lots of cycling on nearby Ile-de-Ré. It’s a very busy and lively town and it’s a great place to shop in comfort (especially for a non-shopper like myself). There’s lots of activity at night along the waterfront which made a bit of a change from the Loire in winter.

The main square of Krakov

We spent the whole of June in Germany and Poland, on our power-assisted bikes clocking up 800 kilometers for 16 days’ cycling. As ever, Germany was a pure delight. It is just so geared to cyclists with all its bike paths and rest-stops and I adore the colourful half-timbered houses in all the little towns and villages!

Gdansk

Poland, however, was another story. Although the major cities such as Poznan, Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow and Wraclow have an amazing network of bike paths, as soon as you get out of the built-up area, you have to take either the main road or go on mountain-bike trails for 20-year-olds in top form. One unforgettable ride through a very sandy forest had me preferring the bitumen and traffic! There are practically no pretty villages which was a great disappointment. The only exception was Gdansk which we really loved. We had an apartment outside the town and were able to cycle happily up and down the coast through the seaside vilalges as well as into the city with its beautiful baroque façades.

Miltenberg on the Main

After two weeks in Poland, we were relieved to get back to Germany and follow the Main River! Poland, despite its drawbacks, is a country on the rise economically and that was obvious everywhere we went. It was difficult to have much contact with the locals though, as they were not very welcoming on the whole.

Stunning azulejos in Porto

Our week’s holiday in autumn this year took us to Porto with Ryan Air (never again!) from the nearby city of Tours. We enjoyed the first three days in Porto, by which time we had exhausted its possibilities, including a rather hair-raising bike ride along the coast. For the next three days, we took day trains (about one-hour each way) to the very interesting historical towns of Guimaraes, Aveiro and Braga. Poland may be on the way up, but Portugal is definitely going in the opposite direction. It’s very sad to see.

A favourite view of Blois when cycling along the Loire

On the home front, we continued to cycle throughout July, August and September nearly every day, often in the evenings for a picnic on weekdays thanks to the long twilight and the amazing weather. We are now up to 5000 kms since we bought our power bikes in May 2017.

Winter walk along the Loire on a rare sunny day

The winter, so far, has been cold and rainy. I’ve been forcing myself to go for an hour’s walk every two days but it’s not very attractive. We have a yearly pass to Château de Chenonceau though which makes a welcome change.

Jean Michel kept on with the renovations at the studio flat in Blois most of the year and it is now ready for holiday accommodation on www.chatelrose.com. I amused myself with some of the decorative features but my brilliant ideas always turned out to be more time-consuming than expected. As it is in a very old building, Jean Michel had to face up to a lot of challenges as well.

Château de Chenonceau from the walking path on the other side

This coming year, especially once I have retired, we went to do more home exchanges as well. And in case anyone is wondering – we still follow the 5:2 diet twice a week and are in very good health! I miss my blog and hope that retirement really will bring me the time and energy I need to write more often! In the meantime, I would like to wish everyone a very happy and fulfilling 2019 and maybe see you over at www.loiredailyphoto.com!

Posted in Blogging, Blois, Cycling, Cyprus, France, Germany, Poland, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Friday’s French – acte de naissance, extrait d’acte de naissance, copie intégrale, birth certificate, entry of births

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In my work as a sworn translator in France, the document I am asked to translate and certify the most often is the birth certificate.

In France, it comes by various names: acte de naissance, extrait d’acte de naissance, copie intégrale, extrait avec filiation, extrait sans filiation.

So first, what is an acte de naissance and why is it called an acte? An acte in French is a written document established according to certain rules. In this case, it is the official document written up by the officier de l’état civil (registration officer) in a register kept for this purpose following a declaration of birth. It corresponds to the British “entry of birth”.

Acte de naissance

An acte de naissance is thus called an “entry of birth” in the UK.

So an acte de naissance is an entry in a register. When you ask for a copy of what is written in a birth register in France, i.e. a birth certificate, you have three choices:

Acte de Naissance Copie Intégrale (or copie intégrale avec filiation) reproduces all the information in the birth register, including the following:
– surname, given names, sex, date and place of birth of the person concerned
– surname, given names, date and place of birth of the parents

It can also have the following information, called mentions marginales (or endorsements) which makes it different from a regular British, American, or Australian birth certificate:

– Mention of marriage, divorce, legal separation, decease,
– Mention of French nationality (registered declaration, loss, reinstatement, naturalisation)
– Mention of the first issue of a French nationality certificate.

It is because of these endorsements that the French authorities always ask for a birth certificate of less than three months as it provides a record of a person’s civil status throughout their life. Since most of the English-speaking countries do not endorse their certificates, the date of issue of the certificate makes no difference. I used exactly the same birth certificate and its translation for all my resident visas, 2 marriages, 1 divorce and 1 naturalisation.

Extrait d’acte de naissance avec filiation

This is a summary of the information in the birth register:

– surname, given names, sex, date and place of birth of the person concerned
– surname, given names, date and place of birth of the parents
– mentions marginales if they exist

Extrait d’acte de naissance sans filiation

This is a summary of the information in the birth register:

– surname, given names, sex, date and place of birth of the person concerned
– mentions marginales if they exist

In Great Britain, the most common type of birth certificate is called “Certified copy of an entry” and provides the following information:

– NHS number (in the more recent ones)
– name, surname and sex of the person concerned
– year, date and place of birth
– names, surnames, dates and places of birth and occupation of the mother and father
– name of the informant

Its format and other details, however, vary according to the place and year of birth.

There is also a shorter version called a “Certificate of Birth” which only has the person’s given names and surname, sex, date and place of birth, corresponding to the French “extrait d’acte de naissance sans filiation”. IT IS NOT VALID WHEN APPLYING FOR FRENCH NATIONALITY, for example.

In the United States, birth certificates are county-issued documents and not standardised within a state.

In North Carolina and Utah, there is a “Certificate of Live Birth” and a “Standard Certificate of Birth” both containing the following information, with the Certificate of Live Birth being more complete:

– name, surname and sex of the person concerned
– year, date and place of birth
– names, surnames, dates and places of birth and occupation of the mother and father

Florida has a “Certification of Birth” with

– child’s name, date and county of birth and sex
– names of mother and father (but not their birth dates)

South Africa issues a document called a “Birth Certificate

– ID number
– name, surname and gender of the person concerned
– year, dates and places of birth and ID n° of the mother and father
– endorsements

Australia has different certificates for different states and years of birth, although the information is more or less the same. The document is usually called a birth certificate (sometimes just “Birth”).

– Child (given names, surname/family name, sex, year, date and place of birth)
– Mother and Father (given names, surname/family name, age, birthplace and occupation)
– Name of informant
– Witnesses at birth
– Previous Children of Relationship; Informant/s (name, address);
– Registration Officer (name, date)

There are a few idiosyncrasies. More recent ACT birth certificates use the term “Personal furnishing particulars” to describe what previously concerned the informant. In Victoria, there is a section called “Endorsements” which is Queensland is called “Notes”. Both the ACT and Victoria include the marriage of the parents. Examples per state can be found on https://www.usi.gov.au/about/forms-id/birth-certificate-australian.

In Canada, it is called a Birth Certificate or Certificate of Birth and comes in two forms: short or long.

The short form gives the following information:

  • last name
  • given name(s)
  • date of birth
  • certificate number
  • birthplace
  • sex
  • date of registration
  • registration number, and
  • date issued

The long form  is a certified copy of the birth registration so contains details about
the parents, informants, witnesses, etc. depending on the state.

In Ontario it comes in a bilingual version called Birth Certificate/Certificat de Naissance.

In Quebec, it is called a certificat, copie d’acte ou attestation de naissance (birth certificate or a copy of an act of birth in English) and can be obtained in either English or French but not a bilingual version. The birth certificate is the short form and the copy of an act of birth is the long form.

So, to answer the question “What is a copie intégrale”?, it is a birth certificate that provides the following minimum information:

– given names, surname and sex of the person concerned
– year, date, hour and place of birth
– names, surnames, dates and places of birth of the parents

In the UK, it is called a “Certified copy of an entry of birth”.

In Australia and Africa, it is called a “Birth Certificate” or “Certificate of Birth”.

In the US, it goes by various names, usually containing the expression “Certificate of Birth”.

In English-speaking Canada, it is a long form birth certificate and in Quebec, a copy of an act of birth.

In France, birth certificates are issued free of charge (in a multilingual version if requested) to:

– The person concerned by the certificate, their legal representative or spouse,
– An ascendant of the person concerned (parent, grandparent),
– A descendant of the person concerned (child, grandchild),
– Or a professional authorised to do so by law (lawyer for their client, for example).
– To any person provided the entry is more than 75 years old or the person has been dead for more than 25 years.

They are obtained from the townhall of the person’s birth, either in person, by post (include a stamped addressed envelope) or on-line.

Posted in French language, Sworn translation | Tagged | 5 Comments

The Akubra Saviour

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We’ve just arrived in Malta for a week of sun and exploring. It is 1°C when we leave Blois at 5.20 am and 15°C when we arrive in Valetta at 1 pm. After checking out our rental apartment, Marina View, with its stunning view of Vittoriosa across the other side of the Marina, we have an excellent meal at the Enchanté Restaurant on the waterside.

After lunch we walk down the other side of marina and over the footbridge to Vittoriosa. It’s quite windy and my trusty Australian Akubra Traveller* hat blows off my head and into the marina. Oh no!

We watch as it makes its way down the marina, hoping it won’t sink. I see a man with a little boat who ferries people across to the other side so I go down to see if he can save my hat.

He very nicely manoeuvres under the rope with his passengers on board until he is close enough to swoop down and retrieve the hat.  When he hands it up to me I tell him it’s an Australian hat. “From Sydney?”, he asks. “I’ve been to Sydney!”

The hat stands up surprisingly well to its dunking but I get sick of carrying a soppy hat after a while and strap it to the back of Jean Michel’s back pack. I won’t be wearing it near the marina again!

Posted in Accommodation, Malta, Mat, Sightseeing | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Friday’s French – place, endroit, lieu

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Place sounds like is would be an easy word to translate from French to English and vice-versa. Well, it isn’t. Only rarely does it mean the same thing in both languages.

C’est mon endroit (OR lieu) préféré pour faire un arrêt en vélo en bord de Loire – It’s my favourite place for a bike stop along the Loire.

I can think of a couple of situations where the meaning is the same:

Si tu remets chaque chose à sa place, il y aura moins de bazar. – If you put everything back in its place, there will be less mess.

Ce parking a 600 places. – This parking lot has 600 places.

La musique tient une grande place dans sa vie.  – Music occupies an important place in his life.

But when it comes to using place in English to mean a physical spot, we no longer use place in French, but endroit.

This is an ideal place for a picnic – C’est un endroit ideal pour un pique-nique.

His coat is worn in several places – Son manteaux est usé à plusieurs endroits.

I put it in the same place – Je l’ai mis au même endroit.

BUT I put it back in its place – Je l’ai remis à sa place. Place here means where it belongs and not a specific physical location.

The word place in French can have all sorts of meanings in English.

Ce meuble prend trop de place. – This piece of furniture takes up too much room. (Note how neat the word meuble is. It literally means anything that is not fixed in place. In English, we would be more likely to say the name of the piece of furniture such as table or chair or sideboard).

Ce village a une jolie petite place. – This village has a pretty little square.

But place du marché can be either marketplace or market square.

And what if the place isn’t a square, but another shape? Sometimes we can use esplanade or piazza. You may have some other suggestions.

When place in French means an individual place in a car or an auditorium, we used seat in English.

J’ai une voiture de cinq places. – I have a five-seater car.

Ils ont un cinéma de 400 places – They have a cinema that seats 400 people or with a seating capacity of 400.

Place can also mean a job in a company.

Elle avait une bonne place mais elle a quitté la société. – She had a good job but she left the company.

Sometimes we don’t even use a noun in English:

Je ne me sentais pas à ma place dans cette soirée. – I didn’t feel comfortable at the party.

The same applies in French:

I’m not fussy. Any place will do – Je ne suis pas difficile. N’importe où fera l’affaire.

Surprisingly, place in English is sometimes rendered by part in French:

It must be some place in the house – Il doit être quelque part dans la maison.

I couldn’t find it any place – Je ne l’ai trouvé nulle part.

It must be some place else – Il doit être quelque part ailleurs.

Another word commonly used in French when we use place in English is lieu.

It’s my place of birth – C’est mon lieu de naissance.

It’s a place of pilgrimage. – C’est un lieu de pèlerinage.

The accident occurred in the workplace. –  L’accident est arrivé sur le lieu de travail.

I put it in a safe place – Je l’ai mis en lieu sûr.

So, what, you may ask, is the difference between lieu and endroit? Sometimes they are interchangeable:

This is an ideal place for a picnic – C’est un endroit idéal pour un pique-nique OR C’est un lieu idéal pour un pique-nique.

It’s my favourite stopping place. – C’est mon endroit OR lieu préféré pour m’arrêter. 

But you wouldn’t say:

His coat is worn in several places – Son manteaux est usé à plusieurs lieux. You have to use endroit.

Le lieu de rendez-vous n’est pas fixé. – The meeting place hasn’t been fixed. You wouldn’t say l’endroit de rendez-vous.

A lieu is a place where something is located physically. It comes from the Latin locus meaning location.

However, endroit comes from old French exactement. You could say it means in exactly that place.

Il se gare toujours au même endroit – He always parks in the same place/spot = in that exact same place.

Vous l’avez touché à l’endroit sensible – You trod on his corns = You got him exactly where it hurts.

And now, let’s have some suggestions from our readers!

Posted in French language | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Happy New Year 2018

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It’s nearly mid-January and I have only just found the time to write this new year post. Even though we have up until the end of January in France to do so, it’s still better to wish people a happy new year within the first week of the month. But lack of time is the story of my life at the present. Working full-time as a freelance technical and legal translator (I am now certified with the courts as well), looking after a large house and garden, cycling in the warmer months and hiking in the winter seem to take up  most of my time.

Jean Michel with his sons on the left and my son and daughter on the right

After a delightful Christmas with all our children – my son from Boston, my daughter from New York and Jean-Michel’s sons from Brest and  Limoges – in addition to my brother,wife and three sons, from Sydney, we welcomed in the New Year in front of a blazing fire, with warm thoughts for all our family and friends.

The cathedral in Angoulême

Travel-wise, 2017 was not quite as exciting as 2016 when we spent three months away altogether. However, we had a welcome short break and change of scenery in Angoulême at the beginning of February, followed by a most enjoyable week in Cyprus at the end of March with warm days and blue skies. We particularly liked the northern, Turkish part of the island with its wonderful painted monasteries.

Kykkos Monastery in northern Cyprus

We came home to spring, always the best time of the year in the Loire Valley. In April we had a fun day in a vintage car traffic jam in Blois with our friends Susan and Simon who take visitors on tours of the Loire Valley in their 1953 Citroën Traction Avant. I checked out family photos of my baptism so we could dress the part.

Jean Michel and I dressed for the part

The end of April took us to the Médoc (a four-hour drive south) for another long weekend where we combined cycling with wine-tasting and a breath of sea air. Living in the centre of France means that we are well-placed for this type of excursion.

With our power bikes on the banks of the Loire

In May, we finally made the decision to invest in electrically-powered bikes for two reasons – to save our ageing knees and to free us from restrictions related to the lie of the land. Our plan was to go to Romania in June, a country we have avoided up until then due to its very hilly countryside. We were not disappointed. Jean Michel applied his usual thoroughness to choosing the right bikes for our needs and we can now go quite effortlessly up amazingly steep hills. In fact, I’m more worried going down but our disk brakes are reassuring.

Said to be the oldest grape vine in the world – in Maribor, Slovenia

So, on 1st June, we left Blois with our bikes on the back of the car for a holiday that took us to Lake Iseo in the north of Italy, Maribor in Slovenia, where we tested our ability to scale new heights on our bikes, Eger in Hungary where we nearly got washed away in a freak flood, then Sighisoara in Romania, home of Dracula and sister city to Blois, which we used as centre to visit the fortified churches of Viscri and Biertan.

Sighisoara, home of Dracula and sister city of Blois

Suceava was the next port of call from which we cycled to many very beautiful painted churches, reminding us of our visit to Northern Cyprus. In Marmures, we stayed with a Romanian family where the head of the house spoke French and we learnt a lot about this still very backward part of the country with its beautiful wooden churches and friendly people.

The wonderful town of Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic

We then started on the road back to France, via Levoca in Hungary, then the absolutely enchanting village of Czesky Krumlov in Czech Republic where our hotel had a garden overlooking the castle, the perfect place for a picnic in the evening twilight after a hard day’s riding. We then stayed in Slavonice before crossing into Germany and discovering Burghausen with its marvellous hillside castle. It was good to be back in a country where I could at least read the signs!

Sigmaringen on the Danube in Germany, near its source

To end our journey, we decided to return to our beloved Danube using the little village of Herbertingen as our base. Taking the train and cycling, we went as far as the source of the Danube at Donaueschingen.

View of Lake Iseo from the top of the hill

By the 28th June the weather was starting to deteriorate so we changed our initial plan to spend a couple of days in the Black Forest and went to Orta San Giulio in Italy instead where rain and shine alternated enough to let us ride around Lake Orta and up to the sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso, at an altitude of 700 metres! Once again, our power bikes proved their worth. We arrived home via Lyon on 2nd July, having been in eight coutries and covered 5,000 kilometers.

The church of Souvigny on one of our local bike rides

In July Jean Michel went walking in the Jura Mountains for 9 days with his sons while I stayed home and worked, looking forward to my retirement in June 2020 more than ever! I did discover a bike route into Blois that avoids the main road though. We then cycled as much as we could during the weekend and evenings until the weather turned too cold.

The blue mosque in Istanbul

September took us for a week to Istanbul which we loved. We rented an apartment just next to Galacta Tower which proved to be the perfect location. It had a quiet little balcony and small garden which provided well-earned rest after a day out in the busy streets of Istanbul. We often set out quite early to visit the sites to avoid the crowds.

Our wisteria in spring

On the home front, our automatic watering system is up and running but we don’t quite have a mini Giverny as initially planned, mainly due to our clayey soil, but we are learning as we go.

View from the garden of our new rental apartment in the historical part of Blois

Renovation of the studio flat I bought last year is making progress at last and should be ready for holiday accommodation this summer. We plan to offer an 18th century decorative experience with all modern conveniences. It is ideally located in the most historical part of Blois known as Puits Chatel and even has a little shared garden.

Typical house in the historical quarter of Blois near the rental apartment

I’m still keeping up with my daily photo on Loire Daily Photo even though Aussie in France is vitually at a standstill but I hope to be able to post more in the future, especially when I retire!

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Posted in Architecture, Art, Blogging, Closerie Falaiseau, Cycling, Cyprus, Eastern Europe, Flowers & gardens, Hungary, Loire Valley, Romania, Slovenia, Travelling | Tagged | 15 Comments