Sciences of travel

Adventure travel blog

Chambéry

Wrapped and Ready to Roll

Winter exercise is never easy: you either freeze your tuckus off outside or you breathe in all the moist nastiness that is other people’s perspiration in the gym. Let’s face it: in the winter, everyone flocks to the gym where there is a higher concentration of human beings, a higher concentration of CO2, and a higher concentration of sweat and humidity in the air that no gym ventilation system can really aerate. It can’t be good for you to have a fan blowing on you as you run on the treadmill (that’s how my grandmother said we all get sick). I prefer dressing up warmly and going outside. Even if its cold, I’ll take the outside.

P1010995-300x225Here in Chambéry temperatures can get pretty low at times. There is a lot of humidity in the valleys and it makes the evenings bitter, bitter cold. At times I had to triple-check to make sure the heaters in my apartment were on. What’s fantastic about biking in the cold (or doing anything in the cold) is you get the same rush as skiing: cold temperatures outside while your body cooks nice and warm. The Romans and Nordic tribes knew about the benefits of hydrotherapy, as did the Greeks and Egyptians. The expansion and contraction of blood vessels pushes blood through the body giving you the rush needed to return to your cube and finish the day’s projects, or prepare for the afternoon’s three-hour meeting. Chances are if you try it once you’ll get the taste of it and you’ll keep doing it.

This is what my buddy Marc taught me to do: invest in the gear and get out there. Great summer riding begins with great winter riding and in this video you’ll see a few suggestions of how to go about facing the bitter cold. The panorama and adrenaline rush are worth it. This is a simple ride we often take around Chambéry that isn’t very difficult but gives us a nice two hour spin – especially in the winter time when the cols are snowed in. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Competences et Talents Part II

A few weeks ago I posted an entry on the Compétences et Talents visa issued by the French Government . The interesting part is that after you’ve taken care in preparing an outstanding project and presenting it to the French Consulate in the states, you need to do the same thing over here in France. But the trick is, you have to reprint everything all over again. My friend Erin had mentioned it was necessary to have the original project on hand in order to complete the process over here. So when I was in the states I had asked the Consulate if I could have my original project description back (Erin was given hers back). However, the French Consulate said “absolument pas.” According to them, the whole point of going through the rigorous visa process is to facilitate the applicant’s integration in French society once they’ve arrived on French soil. So all I needed was the letter from the Consulate General, my passport, passport pictures and proof of residence. And then within a few weeks I’d get my carte de séjour.

They were a little wrong.

I don’t blame the French fonctionnaires for knowing so little about what is necessary to get the visa; this process is all new for them too (in fact, I’m the second person in Boston to be accepted and the first person in Savoie to ever apply for this visa. So both entities seemed a little perplexed on how everything actually worked). In the end, it depends on which Département you eventually live in, but wherever you end up, you need to go to the local Préfecture with the following documents:

  • The letter from the consulate general that issued the visa in your passport.
  • 4 official pictures.
  • Original birth certificate and photocopies.
  • The official Titre de Séjour application.
  • The medical examination application
  • A copy of the original application project, all pages, materials and photocopies of them.
  • Proof of residence.

Of course this list may change depending on the Département, but as a general list this is what is needed. What’s surprising is that although the visa was meant to make things faster and easier, it takes just as long as anything else. When I dropped off all the documents on the 10th of January, the woman behind the glass said it would take a good month/month-and-a-half to get any kind of carte de séjour out to me. Wow. Good thing I got it in the system when I did.

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