samedi 26 mai 2007

French bureaucracy

A frustrating day! I went to the DDE to enquire about my declaration de travaux for the barn (planning permission). A note on the door explained that the office had moved to a secret location in St G. After half an hour of searching I found the undercover portacabin hidden behind the Chambre de Agriculture. The female planning officer was very helpful and fetched my dossier.

"Yes, there has been no objections in the two month period following your submission", she announced.
"So it is approved?", I asked.
"The DDE don't approve declaration de travaux", she explained, "but there had been no objections".
"So 'in effect' I have permission?"

I phoned the notaire to give him the good news that the sale could go ahead.

"Good, but I need a written confirmation of the approval from the Mairie before we can proceed", he replied.

I went to the Mairie and explained to the secretary that I had been to the DDE and there were no objections. She knew, she phoned them this morning. I explained that the notaire needed a letter - could she write me one? I saw a look of fear on her face. I rephrased the question.

"Could the Mayor write me a letter?"

The look didn't go away. The Mayor wasn't there and to answer the question she would have needed to have made a decision. In France there are only 4 groups of people who can make decisions.

"Is it important?" she asked (she knew it was). "I can only write you a letter if the DDE return your dossier to me stamped 'sans objection', which they've not done. Normally they do".
"Perhaps they've forgotten" I suggested, "Couldn't you telephone them now and remind them to send it to you?"

The look of fear was still there. In France only someone who is clearly your superior can ask you to do something (and of course their superior would have to have asked them and so on and so on) - I guessed she was out-ranked by the planner.

"Maybe" she proposed, "you should go to the DDE office in person and ask them to send it to me, it'll be quicker".

Unfortunately the DDE isn't open on Monday (it's the fourth bank holiday this month) so now it'll have to wait until Tuesday.

Who are the four groups of people able to make decisions in France?

1. Monsieur Le President.
2. Farmers - they answer to no-one, apparently a 2 year City and Guilds in Agriculture puts you above the law (I'm thinking of enrolling).
3. Lorry drivers - like farmers they answer to no-one.
4. Notaires - they seem to be able to grant you anything with a stroke of their pen.

6 commentaires :

Anonyme a dit…

Welcome in France !

Anonyme a dit…

Hi, Lee - I was reading your blog, and enjoying it! My mother, who is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts USA was in Erce (Ariege) last month. She found out that she need a notaire. Does your notaire speak English, her french is not very good. If not, can you recommend a notaire who speaks English? Good luck on your construction, deb

Lee a dit…

I'm afraid I don't know any English speaking Notaires...I'll ask around. Is it for a property purchase? I know some excellent books which explain all. Erce is about 1 mile as the crow flies from me - much further by car of course!

Anonyme a dit…

I didn't realize you were so close to Erce! My parents and my daughter (who was studying in London for the semester)went to Erce to visit cousins in April and found out my grandmother's name was dropped off the land document. She needs a notaire to clear it up. I would love to have the title of the property books, property law is different in France than in the states. Is the area (Ariege) growing through a growth spurt? I visited Erce about ten years ago, the area is very beautiful, your photos are wonderful. Thanks, deb lewko

Lee a dit…

"Buying a property in France" by Igoe and Howell ISBN 1-86011-877-1 is a good guide to most property issues in France as well as tax implications. I hope it's useful. Not sure if it will cover your problem but you'll definitely be more knowledge if you have to seek advice/make decisions.

Anonyme a dit…

Thanks, deb