I guess you could say that we were settled in, we had been here a couple of years, and had got to grips with the basics. We had learned the important things, what time the Tabac closed, not to bother trying to get anything done on a Monday, where the Supermarkets were doing the best deals, we were functioning.
We still couldn't field a French sales call, and any 'official' document needed a 'translation' from our 8 year old. We were paying bills on time, ( that's the cheaper option ) but still towelling our ears dry and stepping aside when someone 'pushed in a queue uttering" Oh, Pardon Monsieur" We don't do that now.
We had begun to notice a sort of 'increased activity' toward the end of each month, however. Your Breugelesque scene, quickened a pace, old men scurrying, clutching coloured folders, a zip zap blur of folk zipping hither and thither. Eventually it dawned on us that this frenetic activity was all part of the French cycle. It was bill paying time. Thousands of people desperate to get to the Post office or, Trésor Publique to get the cheque for Le Taxe d'Habitation or Tax Froncière paid before the deadline. We too were 'blurring', having been fined in our first year for not paying one on time, even though the 'bill' was sent to our previous English address.