To park in a disabled space you must have a handicap sticker on the car’s rear window and getting one can involve a long wait.
We needed one recently for our father-in-law. Suggesting that to him was not easy. “I’m not an invalid,” he said.
“No, but can you cross the entire supermarket car park on a busy Saturday afternoon?”we replied and in the end, we took silence for acceptance.
So how do you obtain the sticker (commonly known as le macaron) for yourself or a family member?
You must contact the maison départementale des personnes handicapées. They are on the Ministère du Travail’s website (www.travail-solidarite.gouv.fr) if you click “Handicap” at the top, then look under “Grands dossiers” to the left.
Click “Les MDPH en région” for details of your local one.
You can either go there in person, try phoning or download an application form online (follow the same steps as before but choose Formulaires utiles (useful forms) and then the Formulaire unique pour toutes les demandes à la MDPH. The form is all-purpose.
The initial general section applies to all demands. It is followed by separate sections applying to disabled children, and other specific needs, including dogs for the blind. Put a cross (ticks are unknown in France) in section E, under carte européenne de stationnement.
At the same time, you might want to cross carte d’invalidité et de priorité. This allows you to go to the front of queues, say at the post office or the supermarket.
Details required include date of birth, work and/or retirement periods for the person concerned and his or her spouse, as well as whether you already receive any state assistance.
There is an open section where you describe the problems you or a family member are encountering.
If your French is shaky, someone else should fill this section in.
In addition, there is a separate form to take to your médecin traitant (GP) for them to write their own medical report.
You will need photocopies of the usual documents: your passport or ID card and a utility bill, plus two identity photos.
The sticker can be moved as needed from one car to another. It can be used by the handicapped person or by anyone driving them to do their shopping, as long as the sticker is showing on the rear window. The disabled parking space permit, with photo, needs to be carried by the person concerned at all times.
In the Charente, we were told it would take a maximum of four months, but this will vary from one department to another - so patience may be required.