Moving-in day dawned bright and early with a walk across town from our rental place to our new home, which had passed into our legal possession only 15 hours earlier. First things first, let’s open all the shutters and let the sunshine in.
We had prepared for the arrival of our American possessions by applying for a parking permit for the moving van with a city agency called ‘Service de Mobilité Urbaine’. Their office is right next door to the traffic police, clarifying their responsibility for everything that moves, or stands still, for that matter, in the Ville de Saintes. We were granted the use of three paid-parking spaces right alongside our building on Quai de la République. Our front door is around the corner, facing the park, but that little street is so narrow, you couldn’t park a bicycle there, without impeding traffic.
As it were, the traffic situation was quite difficult even on the quay, but more of that later. The small authorization has to be displayed in the van, while it’s parked. The two larger notices have to be slipped into the clear plastic pouches of the ‘panneaux’, the traffic signs we picked up at the agency to mark our allotted parking space. The signs weigh a veritable ton and these namby-pambies wrestled mightily to fit them in our small car. Fortunately, our friends helped us to return them in their van!
As per instructions, two days before the move, we placed the signs first on the sidewalk, then we returned the night before the event and blocked off the actual parking spaces. Another silly chore was our quest for the obligatory red and white striped plastic ribbon, one stretches between the signs. Those are the situations when living in a foreign country definitely adds a degree of frustration. We worked our way through three different types of stores before we were awarded a roll of this, surprisingly expensive, festive ribbon.
We also visited the two boutiques below us, a copy shop and a hair salon, who would be inconvenienced by our van and apologized to the owners, who graciously forgave us.
We didn’t have to wait long before our cherry red moving van negotiated the road construction, which obstructed traffic flow just half a block up from us. It had to happen, right? Roadwork right next door, which turned this heavily used street into an obstacle course, even before our van arrived!
Since our entry and staircase are exceedingly narrow and most of our living space is on the first and second floors*, we had rented an external elevator through the moving company, to bring in our boxes and furniture over the first-floor balcony.
[* In Europe you usually count the ground floor separately, so one level up becomes the first floor, etc.]
Our first surprise was the unexpected second truck, which soon parked alongside the red moving monster, blocking traffic on Quai de la Républic even further. The elevator had its very own truck and operator, good grief!
Our second surprise was the assembled gentlemen’s rejection of the planed balcony entry. In their considered judgment our wrought iron banister is too flimsy to support the elevator plus load. They decided to use one of the living room windows instead. How could that possibly be wide enough …
oh well, they’ve done this once or twice before, I suppose.
And so it went, box after box.
There were a few tense moments and one extremely tense moment, when our most treasured possession, an antique chair, almost took a tumble, but we and our earthly goods survived the move largely unscathed. There were a few scratches and broken wing tips we will have to claim with the insurance company, but considering the logistics of an overseas move with customs checks and storage, our move was handled with expertise and professionalism on both ends.
|Chaos with Zuni cows|