Balancing Bureaucracy with Baked Goods

It’s actually been a surprisingly successful day with my bank errands, but overall, French bureaucracy lives up to its frustrating reputation. Today’s fiasco was about getting access to my bank account online and through the bank’s app (ok, not quite bureaucratic, but still a headache). Apparently, the account number and confidential code for my account are not the same as the ones necessary to subscribe to online banking. Naturally. So it took two trips and an unsuccessful phone call, but at least I have a friend at the bank now. And I had looked up all of my bank appropriate words ahead of time, so my American identity was only revealed when she asked to see my pièce d’identité. I pulled out my American passport and she said, “Beh, non!” I smirked feeling incredibly successful.

Earlier this week was far less victorious. I am having issues with my phone plan that the company insists could easily be resolved if I’m willing to start a new plan and change my number. I can’t even begin to make a list of all of the places that have my phone number. The Office of Immigration, the bank, my schools, my account with the train company, not to mention all of my French friends! Changing it feels like too much of a hassle so I’m not backing down. I plan to march back in to my local Orange store (that’s my phone company) with a French person who knows phone-related vocab better than me. Contracts and plans and data conversion amounts stretch a little bit beyond the reach of my Advanced Grammar class. I can almost keep up. So that battle has yet to be won.

Additionally, I’ve already visited my lovely neighborhood CAF (housing allocations) office twice this week. People generally have about as much enthusiasm about going to CAF as they do about going to the dentist or the DMV. I’m usually greeted by a line that wraps around the office and down the staircase outside. I come with all my documents and my questions handy just to be whisked away after 30 seconds and told that I will hear back in about 15 days. You win this one, CAF.

Thankfully, my favorite boulangerie/ pâtisserie happens to be on my walk home from the wonderful CAF office. Success! I told myself I’d try new things for a while, but I’ve stumbled upon my favorite and now I can’t get anything else. My favorite pastry is this heavenly chocolate-y deliciousness. It’s called a hérisson, which I think is precious (hérisson is French for hedgehog). It has these little chocolate peaks on top and it’s perfect. I always cut it in half and pretend that I’m going to save the other half for later and then shamelessly eat it all. I’m not exactly sure what it is other than chocolate and some kind of pastry base somewhere close to a crumbly shortbread cookie. Not knowing is part of the magic. I could probably Google it.

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The walk home kind of destroyed the little points on top, but you get the idea.

Pastries and earl grey make me immediately forget about the slow lines and stuffy offices that are closed for two hours during my most convenient errand-running time of day (lunchtime in France is a sacred affair).

At the end of the day, the hassle and headaches of settling into life in France can all be erased by the magic of tea and pastries.

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Proof that I sometimes do try new things. This chausson aux pommes was equally delicious and messy. It can’t compete with my hérisson though.
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