Our French Life, Our Renovation Life

Where Are Orange On The Bureaucracy-O-Meter?


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Send message – I’ll send you a message alright

Okay, so judging from my recent poll it seems you would like to hear more about renovation woos or maybe whoops? Could it be that Orange are up there on the bureaucracy-o-meter and ranked number 1? One being the easiest company to deal with in France? Could it be that they have got this internet, telephone and wifi thing sussed? Well I’m about to tell you, so grab yourself a cuppa, as I don’t know how long this could take.

If you have been following our journey (if not welcome and what took you so long?!) you will know that this house had no water, electric, telephone/wifi connection or any mains sewage. Sorry why did we buy it again? Oh yes, it was on a bit of a whim, weekend break and didn’t cost a lot. You can read more about in the beginning here.

Green Gaine going on

When we arrived in May my first faux pas (#fluent) was not phoning Orange the second my foot landed on French soil. By the way, Orange is like BT in old money. Granted, now the UK have many different providers, and all very competitive. Here in France, yes there are competitors but I’m starting with my French BT.

My thought process decided that, as our house wasn’t anywhere near ready, the roof wasn’t in and internal walls hadn’t been built, the telephone etc would surely be the last of the services to arrange. Wrong. Why? Bear with.

When I did get around to phoning them in August which, if truth be told, I was a just a little bit smug. Here I was Little Miss Organised. I had got this and some. I’d started the process with the fosse and electric.  I wasn’t only organising this stuff and juggling it – I was also juggling with no internet or mobile signal in our rented property. Yarp smug.

I hugged a tree that day

Smug was smacked right off my face with a reality check when I realised I should have done this in May.  This became apparent when I phoned their English line to open an account. You will always wait ages to get through on these lines – if you don’t – celebrate.  The connection was going to cost about 69 euros, my package about 48 euros which included unlimited free calls to French landlines, mobiles, and land lines to the UK and other countries. I have no friends in ‘other countries’ but still. This was good to know should someone move to a far flung destination I could call them.

Okay all sounded pretty darn good. I then get a text to say the next available appointment for this would be November. Sorry what? What November as in my birthday November? November in the month just before Christmas November?

This was a joyful day of epic proportions might even be up there with having the kids

Yes. The earliest date for us to have telly etc would be November. Great. Given that we thought we’d be in the house in September this was first world problems of epic proportions. It took a few days for me to come to terms with this but people rallied around me….I’m kidding!

Plus by then slight paranoia had crept in. What if they say they’ll be there in November but actually they have no intention. And come November no one will show up. You see, even 3 months into French renovation life, my trust with French services wasn’t in a good place.

I phoned back and spoke to a not so very nice operator who – they often do this – proceeded to get cross with me as I wanted to know if it could be done any quicker. A reasonable request so I thought. “Mamm” “mamm”. Stop with the “mamm”! Okay maybe they’re translating the madam equivalent and yes beggars can’t be chosers – she’s speaking to me in English but I’m not living in the deep south of America during the Civil War. One day I will be able to say that in French and oh how I shall marvel at my sheer wittiness in a foreign language. Until that time I had to suck it up.

She did inform me that I may get an intervention. That word sounds good doesn’t it. It reminds me of the scene in Finding Nemo where the sharks shout out “intervention”! It gives you an illusion of hope that somewhere in the Orange maze the intervention man will say “listen guys let’s do this quicker than 3 months – a quarter of a year – who wants to wait for internet for that long?” “No one!” they would all cry whilst quickly gathering their cable and off they jumped into their orange van and….

No intervention came. I did get texts, however, to tell me to plug in my livebox and get it connected. I wanted to wail “I can’t because you haven’t connected me!” That was all delivered and kept in a box for 3 months. Every now and then during this time they would tell me the date was November. Like teasing me you know?


In August the intervention technician came out and shortly after I received an invoice for 194 euros this was for the site visit. Yes, someone had to come out and check us out.  Then another man came out in September – lovely chap and I should just say that they all have been – Enedis, EDF haven’t yet come across a grump. He informed us it would take a few months as they would also have to write to the mairie to get permission for the telephone pole. His detailed plan looked like this:-

A detailed plan a l’Orange

He also had a route around in our bush (matron!) and walked up the road to see where the last point of contact to the outside world finished. Whilst there, our neighbour was outside and I tried to explain that we had no mobile signal at our rental. The Orange man was going to make contact you see. Anyhow, the man took our neighbours landline and off he went.

Oh I forgot to mention – you have to provide the gaine- that is the cables that the telephone line will go through. Here’s the science bit duly explained by Mr Normandy and I quote “you need a ridiculous size”. So yes you need 2 x green gaine which is 45mm one is for the cable you have (we have ADSL internet speed) the other is sitting empty for fibre optic. You need red gaine 45 mm for a 16 mm cable (still muttering “ridiculous”) for the electric. Got it? Good. They won’t do it for you nor will EDF. They’ll connect you but only so far you have to do the rest. The gaine costs money probably double that of the UK.

Morning Glory. Stop it.

Then one day a pole was erected (another matron!) out of the blue and before the magic date of 24 November. In fact I think it was the 19th. So there was an intervention – a 5 day intervention.  Naturally, we thought that was it. But being a bit of dab hand at this I began to have suspicious thoughts. You see in the UK if a pole has been erected for your telephone cable you would assume that the person who erected the pole has done so as he knows that someone is going to connect you. That there has been some communication of sorts. But you guessed it! No, I had to then telephone Orange to get connected. This time I phoned the French line as it’s more direct. Plus the more you pick up the phone and have a go the better your French gets and it gives you more confidence. The went like this  “you know that telephone pole you put up? Well fancy  coming back to connect it?” So the date in November was just for the pole it wasn’t to have the completed job. I was only in phase 1. Ignorance is bliss.

So it took me a week to figure this out. Pretty quick I’d say. Watch out I’m all smug again. I emailed my contact and managed to get a direct line. You need an appointment. I prayed that it wasn’t 3 months. It was 5th December. I’ll take it. God damn it I’ll take it! The man arrived on the 5th as promised and we all had fun and games as he pushed the cable into the gaine with Mr Normandy pulling it on the other side (marton #3). We then got a demonstration on how to plug in and what not. We were done!

A vision of beauty

Or were we? That evening, Mr Normandy came back to the rental and said I don’t think it’s working. It is working I tell him. I’m in denial. Turns out there was a fault with the line. I phone again and the nice Orange man tells me a man will come out at no extra charge and go through it all. By the way I also have to pay another 160 later on for connection. Sure enough he came on 9th December the day we moved in and tah dah we finally, finally had wifi, telephone and television. Then the remote control went missing and I had to phone Orange for a replacement and…I’m too tired!

And if you fancy getting connected in France with Orange here is their English Speaking Line. Or just buy a property that has it already installed!

Bonne Chance!

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