Monday, 20 July 2009

Friends in high places

When we moved in here, in September 2005, we tried to make an appointment with the mayor of Cormatin as soon as possible after we arrived, in order to get his approval, if necessary, for our plans. In the Netherlands the gap between magistrates and the population is quite big, hence we did not know quite well how to tackle this problem.
Anyway, we thought we just would pop in at the Mairie, register ourselves and ask for a carte de séjour. We knew that a carte de séjour was abolished in France, at least for EEC inhabitants, but it seemed a good enough excuse as an introduction to seeing the mayor. Although France has the name of being extremely bureaucratic, everything went very smoothly, and we left the Mairie with the date for an appointment with the mayor.
When after a couple of days we turned up for our appointment, the mayor was not there yet. This is also not unusual. Most mayors of these sort of villages are farmers, shopkeepers, etc. as well, and being mayor over a village of 500 citizens is really a part time job.
After a quarter of an hour the mayor turned up, an d he had a very relaxed interview with us. We told him exactly what we were planning to do, he knew our house and the previous owners well, and made it very clear, that as long as we would employ an architect to take care of building permissions, he had no intention what so ever to interfere with our plans. After this visit we could start looking for an architect and for builders.
The whole renovation was finished by September 2006. For that reason the gîtes could not open until May 2007; however, the toilet block was finished in May 2006, coinciding with the arrival of the first campers.
Although the mayor was passing by our property every morning, jovially waving at us when he saw us, he never stopped to have a chat. Since it is better to stay on good terms with a mayor in these sort of villages, we decided to invite him and his wife for drinks one evening to celebrate the “official” opening of La Tuilerie de Chazelle as a tourist trap.
Of course we were quite nervous about the whole affair, everything went very smoothly. He had his grandson with him, and he and his wife were very impressed with what we had achieved.
But everything has a price tag attached to it. We had been presenting ourselves as being in the tourist trade, not realising that our mayor was also the chairman of a conglomerate of small communes around us. And this conglomerate had decided, that everybody in the tourist industry, hence B&B owners, gîte owners and camp site owners, had to pay tourist tax as of the start of the new season. And guess who’s signature was prominently displayed under this letter!
The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

No comments:

Post a Comment