Today I literally feel like jumping for joy, celebrating this momentous occasion and overall feeling of peace and liberty. Today (drum roll please) I went to the préfecture and picked up my 10-year carte de résident!!!!
At the Préfecture just after receiving my carte de résident
I feel so free - free from yearly préfecture visits and piles of paperwork, free from the stress and frustration of spending multiple months a year without a proper, valid form of French ID, free from the hassle and the need to waste so much time dealing with administration, just absolutely, completely free. And it feels good! So, so good. I almost want to abandon the entire citizenship request (which is not going nearly as well, by the way) for the time being and just relish in the delight and happiness that this 10-year card brings. I want to enjoy a few Préfecture/Bureau des Etrangers-free years before throwing myself back into administrative battles. But I won't because that would be silly and who knows how long the entire process is going to take, especially considering all of the obstacles I've already encountered.
The entire process at the préfecture went very smoothly. I was able to buy my 260€ de timbres fiscaux at the préfecutre and then get in the line to pick up my card. I only had to wait about 30 minutes, which was quicker than I expected, and then I had my card in my hands. I was surprised to see they updated the format and that all new French ID cards are now credit card-sized rather than the gigantic cards they have been using for years that don't easily fit in a wallet. It also now contains an electronic chip with a digital copy of my photo and personal information as well as having all of that info appear on the card. Quite impressive and modern...way to go France, finally entering the 21st century!
I'm also thrilled that I was able to get my card today because I leave for a two-week trip to the US on Thursday and I was starting to worry how I was going to fight my way back into the country without a valid titre de séjour (my old one expired in May) and only a récépissé de demande de renouvellement. Though in theory this shouldn't be a problem I read a few horror stories and a lot of sites recommended printing out a copy of the French law as you would most likely encounter problems at passport control. Now I'm just happy I don't have to worry about it. Ever again!
As ridiculous as it may seem (though anyone who has experienced the titre de séjour process will probably understand), today I just feel victorious. And it feels great.