January 21, 2012

My new French number plates

“Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible”
Javier Pascual Salcedo

There is something about changing one's number plates that make a move feel definite. After weeks or rather months of adapting, settling in and filing endless paper work for any document under the sun, giving up the number plate of your former "home" country always has an air of final, unconditional no-going-back-to-the-past about it.

Five years ago I trekked down to Bellinzona from Lugano to get my Swiss number plates. I remember being so incredibly proud of my Ticinese plates. Not only did it make me feel local but having grown up in Zurich, my belief was that a car with TI number plates was just plain cool!!!

I admit it was sad seeing the Spanish number plates go, nevertheless!

Two days ago, I was sitting at the "prefecture de police" of Paris which I had to walk to because the metro broke down. I did, however, manage to avoid stepping on a rat while coming put of the metro station.

Impressive police station!

It took all of 17 minutes to do the paperwork ... and I had had visions of me spending all day fighting French bureaucrats. I was beginning to wonder if the Swiss administration had some serious competition? Alas, you don't receive the number plates along with your "carte grise", you are, however, allocated a number.

You then need to find a garage or a cobbler who will print your allocated number on a pair of plates within 48 hours. Strange system if you ask me. I'm wondering at this point "where does the insurance fit in with procedures?"

Being Swiss at heart I decide to call my car concessionary who is scandalized by the fact I even considered ordering number plates on line (another option) and gives me an appointment for the next day.

Racing against the clock I decide on an insurance et voilà ... today I am the proud owner of a Parisian number plate. I can already hear the local Swiss drivers cursing at me when we spend our ski holidays back home!!!!!



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