“Jeune” et Administration

To my great delight we have got a, “Jeune”.


For those of you who have read Peter Mayle’s book, “A Year in
Provence”.  You will be aware of Mayle’s plumber, Monsieur Menicucci, the cause of fifty percent of Mayle’s problems and the solution to the other fifty percent.


In the book Monsieur Menicucci had an assistant who was always referred to as ‘Le Jeune Homme’ or simply ‘Jeune.’  I suppose this would translate as, ‘Young Un’ or perhaps even, “Our Kid”.


The relationship between the plumber and Jeune has always struck me as gently amusing, particularly as the latter was, in fact about 45 years old and is, by now, very probably running the business and has acquired  a Jeune of his very own.


We are very lucky, in the village to have Monsieur Ségrét who is extremely multi-talented and, in addition to having an electrical shop, is also a qualified electrician and plumber, repairs household  appliances and is also a couvreur, (roofer).  It is quite rare in France to find someone like this as artisans tend to stick to their own area of expertise, not least because France being France everything has to be accompanied by a forest of paperwork and to set yourself up in a particular profession means that one must have the paper qualifications to go with it. So, to have five areas of expertise, Monsieur Ségrét must have gone through the administrative hoops on five separate occasions besides, of course, being able to fulfil the statutory French requirement to be able to prove which ape you were originally descended from!


Although I am digressing here for a paragraph or two, I will give you one example of how mind-bogglingly irritating the French obsession with paperwork can be.  A few months ago we decided to move our bank account from Saumur to Doué la Fontaine as the latter town is only five minutes away as opposed to the fifteen minutes for Saumur and, in addition, we are always in and out of the Doué branch paying in cash, withdrawing etc. as one does.  

Now, I stress that we did not move banks, just branches.  However, having been in
France for over six years, it did not really come as any surprise when the Manager asked for all the documents which we had already given to the Saumur branch when we first opened our account. He duly asked for:- proof of identity;  proof of residence; birth certificates and  a utilities bill. 

As by now we understand the game, we do not, as you might expect, waste time pointing out that his bank already had copies of all this data, instead, a week later we duly troop into his office armed with all the things he had asked for. 

Game over you may think?  Not at all.  Merely the start of the second half.

Having photocopied all the relevant papers, the manager then leans back in his chair and, most apologetically, says that we have not bought our Marriage Certificate and that, therefore, he cannot proceed any further.  He did not originally ask for our Marriage Certificate but that is by the by.  

However, he has made a cardinal error, which is, to never underestimate your opponent!   What he does not know is that, after years of battling French bureaucracy and following the advice of several French friends, we have accumulated a file full of every single bit of paper that has ever been issued to us since the beginning of time.  This we call the, “Stuff That up Your Jacksie File”.

But do we give him the Marriage Certificate straight away?  Mais non, of course not, that would give him time to outflank us by asking for a copy of Sheila’s Certificate of Confirmation  or, the Vaccination Certificate of our dog or some other totally useless and irrelevant piece of paper.

No, the trick is then to work him into a corner by asking innocently, “So that is the only thing you need now, the Marriage Certificate?”

“Yes, that’s all we need”.

“You are sure, just that one thing?”

Now this is the danger period, a really experienced “functionnaire” would start to sense the manoeuvring and therefore have to invent a few more things that are indispensable before the office could begin to think of carrying out its functions.

But in this case the Manager, obviously overconfident, just smiled and confirmed that the Marriage Certificate was the golden key that would allow us to pay our money into the reluctant coffers of Le Societié Generale, Doué Branch.


Now is the time to strike, this is the moment when one extracts the document from the Stuff That up Your Jacksie file and looking him firmly in the eye to push it slowly across the desk towards him. 

A momentary start, a brief, rapidly controlled stutter and then a gracious admittance of defeat.  He duly copies the Certificate and welcomes us to his branch, (I am surprised there is no award for successfully negotiating the administrative minefield), and then we are home and dry. Voila, QED.


But, as I have said, I digress. Unfortunately the digression has grown to become too long to be merely an appendage to a blog and, more importantly, I am getting fed up of tapping these infernal keys, thus I will continue the tale of, “Jeune”, which was supposed to be the subject of this posting, on my next post.


Until then Bonne Chance et Bon Courage. 

Brian                               Accommodation in Loire Valley


The Committee

As our new village Restaurant got nearer and nearer to completion the owner and indeed Chef, Jean-Yves, started to spend more and more time on site which inevitably meant more and more time in the bar, just across the road.  This, perhaps, explains why the final work which should have taken a week took almost three!

Ever eager to help, the habitués of the bar soon formed themselves into an ad-hoc, self-elected, Restaurant Advisory Commité.  There was one strenuous condition of membership which was that one had to be in the bar at the same time as Jean-Yves.  Then, in the normal selfless manner, advice was offered on everything from colour schemes to the cooking of cassoulet.  The only strange thing was that ‘le chef’ actually seemed to listen!!

One evening Jean-Yves and his electrician were discussing light fittings over a glass or two.  The committee was hurriedly convened into an emergency session and the catalogue was then passed around so that everyone could get in their two-penny worth.

I was particularly taken with some illuminated footballs. ‘Non, non, they are for children’s bedrooms’, said the electrician. 

“You wouldn’t say that if you had won the world cup”, I replied

“I always said the English were mad”, interjected Jackie, and then, digging me in the ribs, “Or, in your case, drunk”.

“Rubbish”, I retorted, “I’ve only had one Ricard”.

“You fell off a ladder”, he stated firmly, referring to the occasion some months earlier when I fell off a ladder and dislocated my shoulder.  He obviously thought this was conclusive evidence that most of my days were spent totally under the influence.

“That was nothing to do with alcohol”, I replied indignantly, “Anyway what about you, you fell over in your courtyard, your flat courtyard and cracked two ribs and that was because of the alcohol”.

‘Exactement’, he stated firmly.  And then, with the air of a man who had just won a great victory, turned back to the catalogue.          

I, on the other hand, was slightly miffed, not to mention mystified as I could not, for the life of me, work out how I had apparently lost that one.  After all, the facts seemed to have been wholly on my side.  I am obviously no Rumpole!

And so, I wandered off to the other end of the bar and bought a Euro Lottery Ticket.  If I win a zillion Euros, I thought to myself, I’ll build a restaurant shaped like an illuminated football, that’ll show em!!  

Anyway, having got over my sulk, I returned to the committee meeting and ultimately we recommended, by universal acclaim, a sort of modern, chrome version of a medieval torch.  Jean-Yves must have agreed because that is what the restaurant now has.  The commité was then  adjourned for the evening, conversation turned to other things, drinks came and went and I slipped a double Ricard into my round for Jackie, with a bit of luck he might fall over again!

The restaurant has now opened, although with no great fanfare, because, apparently EDF could not guarantee sufficient electricity should the eatery be full, (in fairness to EDF I must add that there is currently lots of work being done in the village replacing cables and placing others underground, so everything seems to be operating on  temporary branchements and a prayer)!

So here is a ‘Special Toast’ to Jean-Yves, to all our Clos des Guyons guests both past and future and to all Bloggers pour ‘Une Année de Chance, de Success, Bonheur et Santé’!


‘JOYEUX NOEL’ TOUTE!  From Myself and Sheila