Timbre Fiscal

I got a quaint reminder of the 19th century this morning. I needed to renew my work card (titre de sejour — sort of my greencard).

It cost 269 euros now!

But I’m not allowed to just pay for it. Non… I first had to go to another line so that I could use my credit card to buy two €90 revenue stamps, two €30 stamps, two €10 stamps, an €8 stamp and a €1 stamp. Then I went to another line and gave them to the lady as payment for my work card. She dumped them into an envelope and moved on.

What possible use can this quaint custom be these days?



This one has bugged me for a while…

If you hear someone in France talking about the “vay-say”, which you would probably write as “VC”, it’s not the Viet Cong or the Victoria Cross or Venture Capital, or something like this.

It’s actually not even VC. It’s supposed to be “WC”, but apparently the “double” is too difficult to say. So instead of “dooble-vay say”, it becomes “vay say”. So it means WC. Which is actually English for Water Closet.

So, in France, via tortured evolution, one way to say toilet in French is “vay-say”.


Happy New Year

I’ve been back in France for a while after the Christmas holidays and am being constantly reminded of one of the odd, low-level cultural differences between here and the US.

It seems to be absolutely obligatory that you wish people happy New Year once (and only once) if you talk to them in early January. Far more so than in the US.

Here’s an example email that I just got (which has the benefit of being in English, even if it was written by a Dutchman living in France :-):


Subject: Account
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:42:53 +0100
From: Bart
To: Ganga

Hi Ken,

Let me start by wishing you a happy new year, and my best wishes for a good and healthy 2017!

I would like to ...



Subject: Kickoff meeting
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2017 12:04:55 +0100
From: Herb
To: list

Dear all,

Happy new year to all of you !

The wiki page...


And here are similar emails in French:

Subject: Version finale
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2017 13:53:47 +0100
From: Al
To: list
Bonjour à tous,

Tout d'abord, je vous envoie mes meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année!

Par ailleurs...


Subject: Appel 
Date:     Tue, 10 Jan 2017 11:48:50 +0100
From:     Steve
To:     list

Bonjour à toutes et à tous,

Mes meilleurs voeux pour 2017 ...


Most of my messages after the new year start like this. It’s like clockwork! The difficult part is knowing when to stop. It’s January 10th and most of many of my messages still have this. I don’t think it goes longer than a couple of weeks, and you’re really not supposed to wish someone a happy new year twice, of course.

It really reminds me of my “Bonjour” problem. You’re absolutely supposed to say “bonjour” to people when you first see them, but it seems to be a total faux-pas to say it twice to the same person in the same day!

Some day I’ll figure it out…