An Introduction to Life in France
One of the requirements for my visa long séjour valant titre de séjour is to take a series of civics classes as an introduction to France over the span of four days. The classes covered a series of themes including:
- Understand the principales and values of France.
- Discover the functions of French society.
- Know how to maneuver the administrative process.
- The rights and rules of France.
- Daily life in France.
The fours days are divided into 5 topics of discussion: discovery, health, work, family, and housing. Through out these four days, you have the ability to ask questions in regards to your personal circumstance. There are about 16 of you (during CV times) that take three of the four classes together.
Tips for your Four Days
Bring a notebook and pen. You’ll thank me later.
There are two 15-minute breaks (one in the morning, one in the afternoon) and an hour break for lunch, which will be provided at no cost to you.
Do not be expecting much for lunch. It was a tuna sandwich on a demi baguette, apple sauce and a bottle of water. I’d recommend bringing something to snack on if you get grumbly in the tumbly.
You will be expected to leave the room/building during the lunch period. The first dayI opted to go outside since it was in August and still nice. I walked for 15 minutes trying to find a park or place to sit. There isn’t much around, no park, square, green space to sit and enjoy lunch. The other 3 days I walked all the way up to the 6th floor and ate at the top of the stairwell.
Your day starts early. If needed bring reinforcements, i.e. a thermos of coffee.
If you arrive early (like me always 30 minutes in advance), chances are there is no one in the office to let you in. All four days I waited outside till someone from the office arrived. There wasn’t a doorman to open the door.
Have your paper convocation and passport ready, they will check both and tell you which room you’ll be in for the day.
Wear comfortable clothes, the chairs are not comfy and you do not move around much. During the breaks I opted to walk up and down the stairs instead of gong outside. There isn’t much around the building. And I had the feeling it wasn’t the best neighborhood.
At the end of each day/class, you will be given an attestation that proves you were present. We were told these attestations and any other documents we have been given will be needed for the renewal of our titre de séjour (residency permits).
Getting to your appointment
To get to AFCI, the centre where your civics classes are held, you’ll hop on line 9 and take that to the station Porte de Montreuil.
When getting off the métro you’ll want to take the n°2 exit, it’s the one straight ahead when you walk out the gates. There’s a hallway to the left and a hallway to the right, take the stairs in front of you. Once out of the métro, you’ll continue to walk straight towards a big round-about. Yes, you’re headed in the right direction.
You’ll want to head toward the building with the massive sign that says Carrefour by crossing over the Périphérique. It’ a bit of a trek from the métro to the building, but it isn’t too bad. There aren’t too many people around in the morning, but there were quite a few gentlemen hanging around the street corner and métro entrance.
There’s usually a few people waiting near the entrance to be let in. There’ a keypad and directory where you can search for the office number and this will ring the front desk to let them know someone is downstairs. The doors to the office building are itself locked at all times. If it’s early in the morning, do not be surprised if the teachers are late. The classes are held on the 4th floor, when you get off the elevator, they are to your right.
I had three different instructors during my four days. There is an app that you are asked to download that will help you go over information before class as well as after class.
We covered everything from the symbols of France (the flag, Marianne, le coq, the 14 July, la Marseillaise) and their meanings, exchanging a foreign driver’s license for a French permis de conduire, opening a bank account, healthcare plans, and numerous other subjects about life in France. Through the app, there is an extensive list of resources available to foreigners looking to set up life in France.
We spent the first 30 to 45 minutes of the following class reviewing the previous classes information. We were told there would be a test during the third day, but there was no such test administered.
The fourth and final class was more of a specialized workshop that we were able to choose from a list that best suited our individual needs. I chose the workshop that went into further detail about the social and legal administrative steps tied with our visas. This workshop was put on by a local lawyer that helped foreigners with their visa process.
If you’d like to hear more about the information discussed in the fours days of my civics training, you can click here . I go in depth on the information covered and the subjects covered during these 4 days .