I have five years' worth of taxe foncière and taxe d'habitation I can show, that's for sure. But you have to pay those even if you are not really living in a property and they want you to show continual residency in France with no break longer then, I think, 6 months.
What they really want is five years' worth of justficatifs de domicile - utility bills. Gas bills. Electricity bills. They're the best. And thankfully it is now supremely easy to get at five years' worth of electricity bills. Just log on to your personal space on the EDF website and, hey presto!
There's only one bill showing! But I've been paying for eleven years, and always with the same customer number and everything!
I went to the electricity office in Pessac. I had been there to arrange the house move and they were very glad to see me and very helpful.
"Oh yes. I don't know why they aren't showing. The best thing to do is write a letter and ask for your bills - make sure you specify "free of charge" or they'll charge you lots of money."
I thought that before I wrote a letter I might try the website query system. You can ask questions, like "Where are all my bills?" and then say if the automated response resolved your problem or not. If not then they'll put you through to a real live person somewhere in France!
The lady was very nice. "Oh, but you moved house! If you move house then you have a new contract and that means you lose access to your old bills. You have just two months in which to access them."
"What? But why did nobody explain that to me?"
"Well you should always archive your bills on your own computer anyway."
"Well I can tell you, I will from now on!"
"What do you need them for?"
"For the préfecture. I'm applying for French nationality and I have to show five years' residency."
"Listen, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll print out your bills and post them to you."
"Thank you, that's enormously kind."
"No, it's normal."