Blog Archives

Renewed

An early springtime renewal in our courtyard

To live in France full-time for our initial year here, our first step was obtaining a visa from the French consulate in Miami. Once we arrived in Carcassonne we then had to make an appointment with the Immigration Office in Montpellier for a medical checkup that would qualify us to stay here legally for the duration of that one-year visa. Three months before that expired we visited our local Préfecture (think, Federal Building, in US terms) to arrange for a time to drop off copies of our financial statements, utility bills and a few other documents to prove that we actually lived here and had the resources to support ourselves. A one-year carte de séjour (residency card) has annually been the result.  We’ve been repeating that process each winter since our arrival in February 2016 and you can read about that in our blog post Fort-unate that includes a link to the post from the prior year. This week we obtained our newest carte de séjour with only a few minor changes from the previous experiences.  Read the rest of this entry

Four-tunate

Inside the medieval city walls of Carcassonne

This month starts our fourth year of living in France and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to answer a question that we are often asked, “Why are you so happy all of the time?” A good starting point that might say it all is that we live in the south of France and we’ve just received our residency card renewal to remain here for another year. That alone makes us smile. The procedure was identical to last year (Year 3 begins) which reinforces our other experiences with government and business offices here: follow their rules, give them exactly the documents they want in the order requested and in return you will be treated in a respectful and friendly manner and receive precisely what you’ve been seeking. Who wouldn’t be happy with that? But wait, there’s so much more…. Read the rest of this entry

Year 3 begins

The fortress in Carcassonne

Although we tend to use March 1 as the starting date for our new life in France, the government here considers February 20 the date since that’s when our initial visa began. Americans can enter the country for up to 90 days on their airline ticket alone, but for those of us who didn’t buy a round-trip flight, you have to do a bit more work. During that initial grace period you must schedule a medical appointment with the immigration office who will then stamp your visa as valid for an additional 9 months. At the end of your first year you can trade in the visa for a residency card that must then be renewed annually using essentially the same documentation required to come here in the first place. Basically you must prove that you won’t be a burden to the taxpayers in that you have sufficient income, health insurance, housing, etc. to take care of yourself. This week we again succeeded in doing that so we have brand new residency cards. Read the rest of this entry

Living in France—the book

Cover of the booklet

Although probably not a bestseller, there is a publication from the Ministry of the Interior of France that anyone who is thinking of moving here will probably want on their electronic bookshelf. The price is certainly right—free—and it contains lots of practical information about preparing for the move and then what to do once you’ve arrived in your new country. Just as important, Living in France also addresses the key values represented in the Republic’s motto: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. This is followed by, “These are not simply abstract concepts: these values have concrete effects on day-to-day life by means of the rights and obligations of citizens and residents.” These benefits apply to the French themselves, to those of us living here, and even to visitors. Read the rest of this entry

On my honor

Walking along the Aude river

Walking along the Aude river

Nearly 30 years ago, a political candidate who later became president of the United States, included in a campaign speech his desire for a “kinder, and gentler nation”. He was referring, in part, in his own words “to protect our environment, to safeguard our national heritage for future generations”. When I first heard that phrase I thought he was referring to cultivating a sense of civility that had existed when I was growing up but seemed to have disappeared. In moving to France we appear to have rediscovered both his vision and mine. Read the rest of this entry

The second time around

The Préfecture (federal building) front entrance

The Préfecture (federal building) front entrance

We’re back for round two. If you are a US citizen living in France, you must first obtain a visa that you then convert to a one-year residency card upon arrival in your new home country. For each of those next several years that you live here, you have to apply for an annual renewal of the card. After five continuous years here you can request a 10-year card or citizenship, neither of which requires you to give up American citizenship, for which, by the way, Uncle Sam would want to collect 2,350 dollars. But that’s years down the road. Today’s news is that this week we picked up our renewed carte de séjour (residence permit) valid for the next 12 months. Read the rest of this entry

The medical exam

By now you have read In residence and got the cold hard facts of the visit to the OFII immigration office. There was a lot of fun going on during this visit that made the time fly by.

Each and every person that we encountered was doing their very best to make each person feel at ease with the process. Casual banter about where you were from and how they had been there, too. “Good to see you back again” to someone who must have had a problem with the first visit. This is not your typical government operation of any government that I’m familiar with. Read the rest of this entry