Well off we went, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to collect our cartes de séjour. The desks were open from 13:30 to 14:45, and we had been warned of huge queues on Mondays and the effects of the Christmas backlog, so we went on Tuesday.
As we scurried up the road, Patricia said, "Isn't that Sally". We squinted and yes, it was. She was parking her bike a couple of hundred yards down the road by the shopping centre. We watched to see if she'd follow us, but no.
At the door a nice policeman stopped us...
You're here for?
Do you have a convocation?
Can I see it?
You have your passport?
And your recepissé?
What about the timbres fiscaux?
I said we didn't need these and he looked at the convocation to check, then told us to follow the yellow line on the floor of the préfecture.
We saw the queue for the correct desks and joined it. It was 13:20 and the desks opened in ten minutes. About eight people in front of us was our friend, Frances, collecting her visa for another year's PhD. She had her timbres fiscaux : 269 euros' worth.
A little later Sally entered and joined the queue about eight people behind us.
Just a few minutes and we left clutching proudly our new cartes de séjour, with their astoundingly ugly photos and their microchip that tells everyone who we are, where we live, etc...