Well, it's official! Mr. B and I went to Chicago a few weeks ago and got our visas at the French Consulate. Unfortunately, it was very hot in downtown Chicago, and they had changed the address without bothering to post it on their website, but we were able to get what we needed, after a lot of walking. We spent a lot of time checking their website to make sure we had everything we needed before we left Madison. I guess it pays to follow directions--the people who came without all the proper copies and photos were turned away! Our visas are now glued into our passports, and we can leave for France between August and November. Our visas allow us to stay for 3 months, but we must apply for a "Carte de Séjour" when we arrive, which is like a permit to live there for a specific amount of time. We should be able to get a Carte de Séjour for a year, which is the current length of Mr. B's contract with the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique in Thiais, France. Thiais is a "banlieue"--which is the french word for suburb-- of Paris, and is just a few miles from Paris itself. This CNRS does a lot of research on Solar Cell Technology, which is what Mr. B will be working on while he is there. It is funded by the government of France.
On Monday of this week, we went to Educational Travel Centre next to State Street Brats on State Street to buy our plane tickets. Janet helped us at the travel agency. We got a better deal than we would have on the internet, and we knew that our dog would be safe during the flight. Although they were expensive, because we are flying non-stop, we are relieved to know our dog, Lucy, will be well cared for on the flight over. We are flying from Chicago on Air France. Air France has the best reputation for handling animals on the flight over the ocean. Lucy will be in her crate in the hold of the plane, which is below the cabin, near where the luggage is. Animals have a special room that is kept at the same temperature and pressure as the cabin, so she will be just as comfortable as we are, although I am sure she will be scared.
We leave Chicago on Wednesday, August 31st and land in Paris at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Northern Paris the next morning, Sept. 1. As many kids are beginning their first day of school for 2005-6, we will be beginning a new life in a new country! We have a lot of planning to do to pack our belongings that we are taking, store the belongings we will keep here, and sell some items that we do not need. Lucy will need to get a microchip inserted in her neck (this is required by French law), and she will also need proof of her rabies vaccinations and an extra shot before we leave. We are glad that France doesn't have a quarantine, so our dog will not be held away from us while they make sure she is healthy, as they do in some countries. France accepts the US veterinarian's proof of her health. If we were to take her to England, she would have to live in quarantine for 6 months, which means she would be at a sort of "Doggie Hotel" for 6 months, away from us. We wouldn't like that, and neither would she! Now we need to buy a crate for Lucy, and try to get her used to sleeping in it. This is Lucy. She is a mutt--probably a mixture of Chow Chow and German Shepherd--with perhaps a bit of Border Collie in the mix. She came to us from the Humane Society in January of 2000.
So much to plan for--I hope we can get it all done in time!!!