Grenoble, France and Immigration

When you arrive in a new country, even though you have your long stay visitor visa, you must present yourself to the OFII "L'Office Français Immigration Intégration.  This is to prove you are healthy, not going to live off the health and social system and actually the human you presented yourself as at the Consulate in Canada.  You must fill out the paperwork you got from the Consulate when they gave you the long stay visa and send it off to the OFII as soon as you arrive and WAIT.  Well we waited and waited and stressed about it, and waited some more.  Since you only have 3 months after you arrive to get to the immigration office, the window is small even in North American bureaucratic standards.  Our apartment is awesome but getting mail here presents a new challenge.  So with less than a month left in our 3 month window, panic set in, we called the OFII, emailed the office, called again and emailed again until we got a response.  "Your appointment is in 2 days, didn't you get our response by mail".  Sigh.. .anyway no worries Tuesday, March 1st, 9am it is, we got this.  March 1st is actually our daughter's birthday so what better way to celebrate than exploring a new city for the day, off to Grenoble we go.  We set the alarms, get our documents in order and get ready for our medical visit.

Important documents you will need:

  • The letter they sent you with the appointment date and time. (OFII Convocation) - one we never got.
  • Your passport, with visa and entry stamp.
  • A “justificatif de domicile” proof of residence. Must be either an electricity or gas bill for your apartment in your name, or your lease signed by your landlord’s name.
  • Passport-size photo, make sure you get them in France and not Costco!
  • Timbres fiscaux, available in most Tabacs or online Timbres Fiscaux (these little stamps that act as currency as they do not take money at the OFII - tax if you will).

This is the fun part!

I said we set the alarm right... We HAVE to be up at 6:45am, clean up, quick bite and get to the train station for the 7:26am train that gets in Grenoble at 8:30, take a 10 minute cab ride, gets us there in plenty of time.  Well the alarm didn't go off, I flew out of bed at 7:10am screaming and hollering for everyone to get up, never got ready so quick and our 5 minute walk to the train station was a, not so graceful family run, and thank goodness we did because we JUST caught the train.

Ok so we're on the train all is good, except that bad luck comes in threes I firmly believe this and even more so now.  The train stops, we're not moving, there is an accident on the tracks, we are delayed an estimated 15-20 MINUTES.... We got to the Grenoble train station at 9:00am, stress is not even the word I can relay as an emotion for that moment.  We grab a cab quickly and we are headed to the Immigration Office but it's Tuesday at 9am, downtown Grenoble and there is traffic... 15 minutes later we arrive but luckily nobody blinks an eye.  An lucky for our daughter who was dreading this medical exam thinking she may have to give blood, no exam required for her!

The Medical Visit:

  • A chest X-ray.
  • A nurse visit for weight/height and eye exam.
  • Doctor's chat to review x-ray and discuss medical history.

AND THEN the best part, the lady upstairs takes your docs, photos, taxes and gives you a lovely sticker to validate your stay in France.  Woohoo!  I can now breathe.  Let's go exploring.  First things first - coffee, strong, large coffee and a croissant of course.

We walked through this historic town taking in as much as we could in one day.   You can see this stunning mountain fortress La Bastille from everywhere, and we had to get closer to enjoy it.  The famous Cable Cars from quai Stephanie Jay overlook the Isère River will take you to the the hilltop in just a few minutes, you can discover the flattest town in France in its mountain setting- amazing.   I can only imagine this ride at sunset or in the evening.  A must do when in Grenoble.

We stepped into the Eglise Saint-Louis very quickly but the impact was not lost, grand pipe organs greeted us and the stained glass windows were so pretty, I think we all took a deep breath in aw.  We were surprised at how many bicycles we saw, and tiny electric cars... Refreshing.  Grenoble hosts several festivals: the Grenoble Jazz Festival in March, the Open Air Short Film Festival in early July, and the Cabaret Frappé music festival at the end of July.  We'll be back, sans kid to explore the many museums and the rich history this town has to offer.

Beautiful city of Grenoble.