French red tape is not new, it frustrates French and foreigners alike

It has not improved since the 1970s, but take heart that even France’s ‘fonctionnaires’ get annoyed with it

French administrative building flying flags
“C’est une horreur!” - The French get frustrated with bureaucracy too

Nigel Perry’s letter (Connexion, March edition) describing his tribulations dealing with French bureaucracy probably sparked feelings of recognition and sympathy with many readers who live here.

The problems afflicting France’s administration are not new.

Read more: ‘Reason €10bn in French state aid is unclaimed is simple - paperwork’

Read more: ‘It took five trips to mairie’: What is getting a Pacs in France like?

I lived in France in the 70s and life was a never-ending battle with various departments involving huge bundles of files, which usually had to be physically carried between various ‘services’.

I returned to France in 2018 expecting IT and world-class management consultancies to have solved the problems.

Alas, they were worse.

Other countries run efficient and helpful public services.

So this begs the question as to why the French seem to be constitutionally incapable of solving their bureaucratic problems.

It is not as if the French enjoy the struggles they have with their own officials.

Talk about l’administration and you will see a visceral reaction from most French.

As my neighbour says: “C’est une horreur!”

My own feeling is that the situation of appalling service comes from deep psychological and cultural roots, which probably mean it will take centuries to fix.

In the meantime, console yourself with the fact that the very fonctionnaires who are making your life a misery are themselves being emmerdés by numerous other arms of the state.

Peter MANOLESCUE, Dordogne

Share your views - Let off steam or share a point of view on an aspect of French life

Email: or write to:

The Connexion, Le Grande Bretagne,

30 av. Grande Bretagne, 98000 Monaco

Please include your name and department of France or country where you live. Letters used may be edited for space and sense; the Editor’s decision is final. Letters received may be used online and/or in print.

Related articles

Covid changed my mind about French healthcare: it is exceptional

Croissants, cheese, strikes - what makes the French, French?

Process, costs, carte grise: How to register a car in France