Wednesday, 25 November 2009

That's France for you

Posted by Rosie

When you have a new Septic Tank (Fosse Septique) in France, you first need a soil study to ascertain what system you can have then when the pipework is all in, you need an inspection to check everything is as it should be, then you can close it all up and use your new Fosse. Well, that was what we were told.

So we had our soil survey, ordered the relevant materials and started to install the system - with a considerable amount of difficulty because it was necessary to leave all the trenches open for inspection. Once Simon finally got to the point we could call in SPANC (the Fosse checking body) I tried to phone up to arrange for an inspection.

Phone call Number 1 - after fumbling to explain what I needed the lady eventually cottoned on and said I needed a different number. She did however very kindly give me the words I needed (Un certificat de conformité sur les traveaux de notre maison)

Phone call Number 2 - ah yes she said - right office but we don't cover your commune so she gave me the number she thought I needed.

Phone call Number 3 - well I should have realised this would be the wrong number as it was not a local code - it was in fact in the Loire Valley! I explained I needed a Calvados number and she said ring another number.

Phone call Number 4 - "Sorry" a very nice lady answered, she couldn't help and I should go to my Mayor's Office.

Next day - trip to Mayor's Office. "No" said the secretary, "I can't give you the number because there is no SPANC to cover Lénault." She thought we didn't need an inspection but I should ring the planning authority to check.

Phone call Number 5 - "I'm sorry" said the lady at reception but the person you need has gone home. "Can you ring back tomorrow please."

Phone call Number 6 - I FINALLY got through to some-one who gave me a concrete answer to my request for a Certificat de Conformité. "You don't need one" she said, somewhat surprised that I had even asked.

Ahhhhhhhhh. If only we had know this earlier Simon would have been able to progress so much faster and the system would now be in place rather than a mass of gaping holes, that can't be back-filled because the digger has once again broken down. I repeat - Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!


  1. ah - one of those moments! I used to have them often when I worked overseas. All sympathies!

  2. Oh gosh, what a carry on! I bet Ahhhhhhh....wasn't the only expletive to come from your lips!!

    Sympathies...... (you'll look back and laugh one day!).

    Sue xx

  3. I know just what you mean. My sister recently moved to live in France as her husband has a job in Geneva. As she doesn't speak any French I have been called upon to interpret. All I can say is that as infuriating as the whole experience has been so far, at least all the people we have dealt with have been absolutely charming. I'm going back next week to visit and there is a list of things she still has to sort out waiting for me. Really, a degree in French and Spanish does not prepare you for this kind of task!

  4. Thanks folks - what is even worse is we spent ages (and lots of phone calls) to vaious organisations trying to confirm we could swap the 6000l tank, as specified on our survey, for a 4000 and a 3000L one. No-one who we asked mentioned that we would not get an inspection so why would it matter anyway?!

  5. Pamela - welcome to the blog. Perhaps WE need your interpretaion skills too!!

  6. Oh no how frustrating! Hope digger gets fixed soon! And will you be starting the septic tank off in the traditional way? With a dead hen?? (Noooooo I don't mean you kill one especially..... not sure WHERE you get one from, but around these parts that's what is done to kick start the bacteria....)


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