France: What a Difference a Day (or Two) Makes…

We knew there would be bumps in the road moving to France, and mistakes would be made. What we didn’t know was how big a difference a day, or in this case two, would make.

When we applied for our visas, there was a long list of paperwork required. And everyone and everything said all paperwork had to be in order. One of the items on the list was a plane ticket, so I booked us on the last non-stop flight from NY to Nice. October 28th. Originally our apartment rental was from November 1st and our visa applications were to begin on the same day.

At the visa appointment, no one asked to see the flight reservations (or a bunch of the other documents we brought, in duplicate). We arrived in France on the 29th, 2 days ahead of the visa and thought nothing of it. When our lawyer went to get our visas validated (validation is a very big thing here in France), they refused because we were in the country 2 days earlier than the visa. No big deal, right, just go to another country (like Italy just a 40-minute train ride away, or even Morocco a non Schengen country) get stamped at the border and everything will be fine. Nope.

We were told we had to go back to the country of origin, in this case the US, and come back to France.  Because the clock was ticking on the 90 days we had from the start of the visa, the holidays were rapidly approaching, and everyone would be on vacation at the end of December and beginning of January, we needed to do it ASAP. So, we booked a flight to NY and back to Nice the next day. Although it would have been great to hang in the city, pick up some of the things we missed, and see some friends, we decided to stay at the airport. To try to get some fun out of this trip, we booked a room at the TWA hotel, the Saarinen-designed former TWA terminal. It’s very groovy.

There are some really good design elements there, but it’s not a place you’d want to stay for more than 2 nights unless your idea of a room with a view is a runway or an off-ramp at JFK. Weirdly, there was neither a dresser or a closet, just a couple of hangers and some coat hooks, impersonating a closet.

Less was definitely more, especially when it came to the bill for our little adventure, but the good news was that we got our visas validated. And we’ll know for next time what a difference a day (or two) makes!


Thanks to Frank for the photo from the plane!


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