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france for a year

I know we can't travel for awhile, but we have been researching an extended trip when we can. Have read that France has a long term visa that allows you to stay for a year with the proper paper work and such. Anyone done this? Read also that once you have it, you are considered a resident of France and you can travel outside of the country if you wish.

That is my first question.
Secondly we were looking for somewhere to base out of for a good month? Then look at our travel plan. Hoping someone can recommend a good, rustic, but affordable village type spot? Looking at Colmar? Hoping not to rent a car and use public transport if it becomes safe again!
Anyway, we are just trying to be hopeful about travel and wondered if anyone has done a long term visa in France and how it worked out?

Posted by
16826 posts

I believe you are correct about being able to travel to other countries when you have a long-stay visa for a Schengen country. Note, though, that anecdotal reports indicate one step toward obtaining said visa is likely to be presenting a year-long lease, which could/would mean paying twice for the nights when you travel away from your base. You will also have to prove you have medical insurance and assets and/or reliable income sufficient to satisfy the visa issuers that you do not intend to work in France and will not become a ward of the state.

We have at least two people who post on the forum and have obtained long-stay visas for Italy; perhaps there's someone with that experience in France as well.

Colmar is lovely, but it is not a village. It's also very popular during normal times. I wouldn't call it "rustic". "Affordable" is in the eye of the beholder. Exploring shorter-term lodging options on in Colmar vs. other places you may consider would be one way to get an idea of relative costs. Month-long rentals (though I'm nearly certain you'll have to lease for a year) will obviously be less expensive than staying for just a few nights, but place-to-place comparisons of short-term costs might still be useful.

I'd lean on the SNCF website to figure out travel times by train, to see whether possible bases will allow the flexibility you are hoping for. Unfortunately, service has been cut back so much recently that I'm not sure the schedule information currently posted will be representative of what the world will be like after the virus situation clears.

You can do further exploration on to see where you might get by bus if you want to go places with no rail service (which includes some of the wine villages around Colmar). However, it is essential to realize that the fares, travel times and frequencies shown on the Rome2Rio website itself are works of fiction. You absolutely must not trust them. Just keep drilling down until you find the name of the bus company serving the destination you're interested in, then go to its website for accurate schedule data.

I hope you can figure something out. I'm retired and would like to try it, but needing a lease covering the full length of the visa defeats me. I'm not interested in being pinned down in one location for more than perhaps a month (and that would only be in a really major city--probably only Paris). I figure the cost of a one-year lease in Paris would blow the whole idea out of the water, even aside from the double lodging costs when I traveled away from the city.

What I do instead is take 4-1/2 month trips to Europe, during which I spend a good chunk of time in countries that are not part of the Schengen Zone.

Posted by
24 posts

thanks! Yes we tried to research the accommodations requirement and we have seen things say need lease, and others that say no one asked about it! So we are not planning on working, just would like to dive into the culture with more than a 90 day stay. We don't want to stay in the same place for the whole year, but wondering if we have a month reserved if it shows enough. We would like to explore more of france, we enjoyed it so much last year. I hope I can find someone who has actually done this!!! In the meantime I will keep researching. Won't be able to go for awhile so I have plenty of time too. thanks again.

Posted by
20624 posts

First step is to contact a French consulate or web site and obtain the application. That will give you the conditions for applying. From reading other responses I am inclined to think that you total assets are critical. Also there are ex-pat web sites that addresses those issues directly. Just goggle it.

Posted by
78 posts


I have been through applications and several renewal cycles of a couple of types of long-stay visas over many years and, to my recollection, none of them ever included submitting a lease. You have to provide a postal address so communication sent via La Poste can be delivered to you in France (such as the "convocation" to meet with an agent at the préfecture and to pick up your carte de séjour), but I never had to show a lease. Do you recall where you read that?

Maybe others who have been through the process can comment on their experience.

You're correct that health coverage is required for a year, but note that under the current system you can apply for a Carte Vitale and enter into the French health care system after 3 months of residency. Reading the background on that, it's not only that you can do it, you're expected to do it as a resident of France -- part of demonstrating that you're sufficiently frenchifying yourself, I guess.

And looking at this website, the financial resources necessary to satisfy emigration requirements are not that high, in my view: you need to show that you have the equivalent of 1 219 € net per month per person available. So, per year, that's 14 628 €, which is about $16,450 USD using today's exchange rates.

If you avoid high-demand, high-cost locations, you can rent a place pretty cheaply in France. For example, we have a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with garage and large office in a small medieval town within walking distance to commodities and services (banks, markets, bakeries, butchers, caterers, post office, city hall, and both doctors and dentists). We pay 820€ per month ($921 USD). That's about 20 percent less than one of our kids pays for a small, 1-bedroom apartment in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.

If you want less space, you could live with much lower rent.

If you want to live in central Paris or Lyon or Nice or Nantes or Montpelier, you could live with much higher rent.

All things considered, I seriously doubt I could live as cheaply in the U.S. as I do in France, maintaining a comparable standard of living. And, by walking out my front door and going to the train station (also within walking distance), I can be in central Paris in less than 3 hours or in central Lyon in less than 2.

To the original poster -- what part of France are you interested in and why? That might help narrow down suggestions.

Posted by
6795 posts

A resident visa means you are a resident of that country, based in that country but you can take trips elsewhere. Who polices, how, and where--I don't know. But you are by no means the first person to have thought about misidentifying your status on a visa who has come here and asked that question. It's usually discouraged.

So, for that reason, I would look for someplace within striking distance of CDG/Orly and the Paris train stations: Normandy, Alsace/Lorraine, Paris region, northern Burgundy--to use as a base but be able to fly or take the train to other countries for vacations. Of course you would be paying for two lodgings but would also experience more local living. And as Sammy pointed out, monthly rentals would be less. Take a look at Morning Croissant furnished rentals. They seem less expensive than Airbnb, but beware added fees.

Sammy: people on this Forum have talked about having to provide proof of lodging when they go for the initial Conulate appointment.

Edit: the closed FB group, Americans Retiring in France has a lot of dossiers with information about obtaining visas, taxes, housing, etc.

And, for tax purposes, I would split the travel year for tax purposes, being sure to monitor in which country you want to declare your residence. If it's the US for tax purposes, I'd leave after July 1 but be sure to be back before June 30. Count the days out to be sure you have the majority of days in the country in which you want to pay taxes.

Posted by
23547 posts

in kats hands,

You haven't completed your profile here so we don't know where you are coming from which may be important for this question.

I see you've been around since the old Helpline days and have made several trips to Europe.

In a post in 2016 you said you were returning to the US so I presume you are a US citizen with a US passport.

That is likely useful to people providing answers to this specific question.

I'd point you to the nearest French Consulate but I don't know where in the US you are. But that is a good starting point.

I'd agree that Colmar isn't a village - far from it - but there are plenty of rustic villages nearby. It would be difficult to base at one of those because the train doesn't go to rustic villages and buses around Colmar are a bit sporadic. A car in that area would be a lot of help.

Once you get into Colmar though, it is on a fairly important TGV and TER train line between Basel in Switzerland and Strasbourg, and connections into Nancy and onwards to Metz and Luxembourg. From Basel you can get to all parts of Switzerland and by both local and ICE trains north from Basel into Germany. Although Colmar is just a few miles by car from Freiburg im Breisgau there is no direct train (down to Basel and back up, or up to Strasbourg, over and down) but I do think there is an occasional bus which goes the short way.

Posted by
3986 posts

We looked into what would happen to us post Brexit and our understanding is that you need a permanent address for the year (not a month) and maybe asked to show proof of this in the form of a lease etc.

My understanding is that to become a French resident, you need to move your tax affairs to France. A friend moved to France a few years ago from the U.K. (when we were in the EU and it was supposedly easy) and has found there to be a huge amount of bureaucracy.

My understanding again - The visa is only valid for France, not the general Schengen Zone and you will be restricted to 90 in 180 days for the remainder of the Zone as you currently are, assuming you don’t have an EU passport.

Villages generally don’t have good public transport and to explore the area, your trip would be significantly improved with a car. Colmar is a fair sized town, not a village. What has attracted you to this area? It’s cold and wet in the winter. If renting, you maybe asked for a guarantor and you will have to show that you have the ability to pay.

I presume you wouldn’t be working there (even remotely)?

Posted by
16826 posts

Sammy, your information is very valuable. Most (quite likely all) the comments I've read about long-stay visas related to folks who wanted to live in Italy, not France. I met an Australian couple who had jumped through the necessary hoops and had a long-stay visa for Italy. They were required to produce a one-year lease, and they told me it took either 3 or 4 (I don't remember) trips to the Italian consulate to get things lined up. The financial requirement you cite does seem reasonable.

Posted by
1079 posts

Firstly, and very importantly, of what country are you a citizen?

Secondly, visa applications are not now being accepted by the French government. When they are, you will need to set up an appointment with the nearest consulate/embassy. This typically takes weeks or more but there could be a sizable application backlog. The request must be made no fewer than 3 months before your intended departure. Typically, you may need to make several embassy/consulate appointments.

Thirdly, you will need to provide an address in France, proof of medical and repatriation insurance, proof of financial resources (3 months of bank/investment statements), and a statement of good standing from your local police. You can begin the process by completing these forms.

Generally, the application is very involved and will require your providing a good amount of personal information. There is a new, abbreviated application process if you plan on staying more than 90 days but less than 1 year. This application is not renewable, stays must end at the 1-year point.

While you may travel anywhere you like during your residence in France, there is a requirement that you complete and resubmit most of the already submitted paperwork to the OFII office 90 days from your date of entry. Any document submitted in English must be officially translated into French. Required translations are, among other documents, birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce degrees or a number of other official documents. The current rate, in Paris, for official translations is around 50€ per page.

Also required by the OFII will be an official chest Xray. This is done a special immigration medical facility. Once you have completed OFII processing, your dossier will be transferred to the local Préfecture de Police for any further and future processing (such as yearly renewals if you stay beyond one year).

Though not impossible, moving to France is a very daunting endeavor. The process is much easier if you are a fluent French speaker.

Other resources which may be useful:

Expat Froum France

Posted by
78 posts

Bets writes:

Sammy: people on this Forum have talked about having to provide proof of lodging when they go for the initial Conulate (sic) appointment.

That's good information to share. Perhaps that information's accuracy varies with time and with location (that is, which consulate). I can state based on personal experience that the San Francisco consulate did not require information beyond a French address when we responded to our convocation request in January 2014. No documentation of a one-year lease. Just an address.

We used the address of an apartment owned by the parents of a French co-worker in the United States (where we stayed upon arrival in France), which we then changed a few weeks after arriving to the apartment we rented at that time. I realize not everyone has an acquaintance with parents who are French and who have an apartment in their target city, but I had the distinct impression that any address would have worked, as long as one could retrieve their mail from it. In fact, I'm quite sure of it.

Posted by
6795 posts

I didn’t say one-year lease, but did say proof of lodging, in other words, a residential address, or initial contract. Some have reported taking proof with them, but maybe that was overkill, or they were afraid of being denied a visa so loaded up on paperwork. I’ve been spared the trouble, thanks to having dual nationality.

You were fortunate to have a contact with an apartment where you could stay. That helps so much with orientation to a new city, sets you off on the right foot. And it sounds like you’ve landed in an ideal place.

Posted by
78 posts

You're correct -- you didn't write "one year lease." But that was the theme running through some of the original comments, so I apologize for staying focused on it. I simply was trying to point out that that was not what I had experienced. Instead, it was the requirement to provide an address where one can receive mail. Not a lease of a particular duration.

And... I didn't really have a contact in France. I didn't know anyone here. I got the keys to the apartment in the U.S. through interoffice mail at my place of work and carried them with me on the plane to France. Took a taxi to the (vacant but furnished) apartment from the airport. The apartment owners, the French parents of my co-worker, live most of the year on the east coast of the U.S.; several thousand miles from where I used to live. I met them for the first time after we had rented an apartment of our own and moved out of their apartment. They had come back to France on their seasonal visit.

Posted by
389 posts

My wife and I have a long stay Visa good for a year. We are now working on renewal for a second year. You’ve got a couple choices, you can go on line with the French Embassy and start the process, hire an immigration attorney (there are Americans in Paris who practice before the French and also in the United States) and finally an American expat living in Paris offers Visa assistance [check the Americans in France FB page sponsored by Allison Lounes] to secure a long stay Visa. It’s somewhat bureaucratic and still like a trip to the dentists office but it’s doable. If you apply for the long stay Visa don’t argue just supply the required data....and then some. With that long stay Visa you can come and go in France and the European Union. You simply have the right to reside in France.....resident is a bit of a strong word in this case.

One year is a took us a number of years to become accepted in the little village we call home in France. Don’t expect an epiphany of acceptance in a one year stay.Your desire not to rent a car will or could doom you to a cloistered life. Colmar is a great location but I sure wouldn’t live there without a car.

All things considered I am glad we have a long stay Visa. It is within reach to get and renew. Living there takes some work And you should be prepared for that. We will likely be in France in another few months and I am still excited by that prospect.

Good luck with your endeavor!

Posted by
1079 posts

Lot´s of speculation here. You probably can complete initial paperwork in the USA with only a French address but for your OFII visit you will likely need to provide proof of domicile and your EDF (Electicité de France) account number. The French use your EDF account information for identification much like a SSN is used in the USA. This information determines to which préfecture, or police station, your paperwork will be transferred. All foreign nationals are assigned a préfecture based upon where they live.

To open a bank account, you will need your titre de séjour, a copy of your lease, and your EDF account number. For short stays of under 1 year, you may not need a bank account.

For health insurance, you will be able to apply for a Carte Vitale after 3 months of residency, a process which takes several months. In the meantime, you will need health insurance.

One of the easiest ways to move to France is with a home exchange. This greatly simplifies the process but you'll need to find an interested French resident with whom you can trade homes.

Posted by
1161 posts

OK, so lots of info flying around here, some I've heard and some of it contradicted in other places.

Best to maybe start with one of the few (only?) folks on the internet offering guidance on this: Stephen Heiner, (I get no kickbacks on this. I am not affiliated with him. I am not trying to entice you to do anything illegal.)

He offers a course (basically talks) on obtaining the long-term visa (the carte de sejour is another thing, apparently, what you get after your first year). The course is cheap (I've taken it) and a decent intro to the process, but it lacks many details, for which he'll want a huge fee in a consultation.

On the housing, the consulate (I understand) will look for either a year-long lease or an attestation d'herbergment (ADH), in which someone in France must attest that they will be hosting you (for money or not).

But as some in here have said, sometimes you can get away with things, and sometimes you cannot. I wouldn't go into the consulate interview without everything in place, however.

The French love their forms and bureaucracy, after all.

Stephen also says that you can't get a Carte Vitale under a long-term visa. When you can get it, I don't know. But I've often heard the three-month thing, so who really knows?

Minimum money needed is set to the SMIC, or the current minimum wage in France, which is now something like 16,000 euros/year.

Posted by
125 posts

My wife and I are US citizens. In April 2020 we applied for our long-term French visa at the visa processing location in Washington, D.C. (since we were then residing nearby in Maryland).. It was not the French embassy - they outsourced the process to a firm which processes visas for a number of countries. We had heard various horror stories about not having enough documentation, and having to come back repeatedly, and since we were on a short timeline we decided overkill was the best policy in terms of documents.

We had just been in Paris for 3 months and had secured a lease on an apartment there, so we brought that with us. We also had set up a bank account in Paris, and we brought those documents. We also had plenty of proof of income,and proof of health insurance for one year. I am not sure we needed all of this, as the agent who reviewed our papers seemed most interested in placing the documents in the correct pile (one for me and one for my wife - I wish we had known that we each needed copies of the documents, and that they could not just use one document for both of us). Although we had been told that we needed to pay the fee for processing the documents in cash, they told us when we arrived that we could not use cash and they only took credit cards. So be prepared for changes from even what the official website tells you. After submitting all the documents and having our photos taken (we had brought passport size photos with us, but upon arrival were told they were the wrong size), we were told that the documents had to be reviewed by "higher ups", and that we would be notified within 3 weeks. We actually got our long term visas in about 10 days. However the corona virus then fouled up our plans, as France decided not to allow any non-citizens into the country, so I cannot comment on all the procedures you have to follow after you actually arrive in France on your visa.
As to where to live initially, I agree that a "small village" and no car are kind of mutually exclusive. I know nothin about Colmar, but if you like Normandy, I would recommend staying in one of the cities on the railroad line which comes from Paris. That way you could travel fairly easily by train. We loved Bayeux, but only stayed there for 5 days at a time. I am told that it rains a lot there in winter. But in the spring and fall, we found it to be a lovely town, with many of the attractions of French culture. Peter

Posted by
1161 posts

Thank you very much, adodd.

Reports of direct experience are best when you can get them.

  1. How did you ever get a bank account? I hear that is nearly impossible for Americans now under FATCA. But Stephen says that any legal resident of France is entitled by law to be able to open one. But you weren't even that yet. And so, what bank, pray tell?

  2. Please tell us what company you used for health insurance. How much was it? The consulate wanted proof of a full year? Did you pay already for that full year? Stephen says to get it in while in the US, but then you can cancel after a month? two? three? and then get a French plan, which needs to be paid in cash in person there.

Or, maybe you can pay for that full year's coverage, and then cancel and get the remainder refunded?

Stephen also says that things asked for on the application they might not care about, but then things NOT on the app they'll want. So, again, on sait jamais.

If I want to do this myself, I may have to do a scouting trip in the fall to find an apartment. People I know who live in France answer all my emails--except the ones where I ask for help on the housing . . .

In February this year, I did meet with one real estate agent in France, but she didn't care to help me too much since I was looking for January 2021.

She also said that it is actually easier to buy than to rent. And, of course, the big issue is the French bank account. I've since learned that the bank account is key for the landlord in general when renting because renters have all the rights, and landlords few. So the owner wants to be sure you'll actually be able to pay, because it is hard to evict renters--and not at all possible during the winter months.

BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT--Stephen says that 3 out of the 4 landlords he's had so far wanted to be paid in cash/under the table, so a bank account might not be all that important.

Stephen says that you really don't need a French bank account for the first year, but it will be important if you want to renew for another year.

And therefore be sure to check the box on the application that says you want a renewable visa--one year PLUS. You don't need to renew, of course, but you can't if you check the wrong box.

(Stephen Heiner, an American, has been in France for about seven years now, first under a year-long and then under a profession liberale visa. FYI.)

Posted by
78 posts

I see some incorrect information (or at least, information that is inconsistent with my experience living in France), so I thought I'd add to the discussion.

Also required by the OFII will be an official chest Xray. This is done a special immigration medical facility.

This is inconsistent with our experience. Yes, we had to have a chest x-ray done in France as part of the OFII process, at nominal cost, but it was done at a normal medical imagining facility, not a "special immigration medical facility."

Stephen also says that you can't get a Carte Vitale under a long-term visa. When you can get it, I don't know. But I've often heard the three-month thing, so who really knows?

One has to be careful with information, paying attention that you access current information. It's easy to find references on the internet or in published books saying one cannot get French health coverage under this or that kind of visa, if you're retired with no income other than a pension, and so forth. That's outdated information.

In January 2016, France implemented a new law called protection universelle maladie, often abbreviated as PUMa or PUMA. You can read about it here (pick any postal code when prompted -- it doesn't matter for this purpose). If you don't read French, use an online translator such as Google Translate, Bing Translator, or DeepL.

In short, the law that went into effect in 2016 assures universal health coverage to all legal residents of France after 3 months of residency (though the process of applying and getting approval, along with your Carte Vitale, takes another 3 to 6 months beyond that, so the practical effect is you'll probably need the better part of the your first year as a French resident to get the process set up).

To immigrate to France, you need to show that you have health insurance, including repatriation coverage, for one year, unless you have coverage through your employer in France. Under PUMA, that means you won't need that full year of coverage, but that's the requirement.

In addition to the universal coverage provided by the government, most people buy heavily regulated supplemental insurance (referred to as a mutuelle) to cover things the universal coverage doesn't. I have read the cost of a mutuelle can range from about 75€ to 150€ per person per month, depending on the company and options selected. We pay 94€ per person per month for my wife and me.

For many retirees, it's a pretty good deal now that they're eligible for health coverage under PUMA. That's because the 8 percent cotisation (social security tax) that is deducted from French workers' earnings to pay for health coverage is only owed if one has annual income from wages or capital gains above a certain threshold (about 4,000€/year for a single person or 10,000€ for a married couple).

But your pension or annual IRA/401(k) withdrawals would be higher than that -- won't you have to pay the 8 percent on that?

Nope. France doesn't count pensions or IRA/401(k) withdrawals as income. They're considered pensions that have to be reported to the tax authorities but no French tax is owed on them. For a retiree who isn't working, he or she would have to have capital gains, such as interest income above the thresholds cited above, to owe a cotisation for health coverage.

You'll still owe income tax to the IRS, of course, but that's the way the tax treaty between the U.S. and France is designed. So - an American retiree in France gets the high service benefits of a high tax nation like France but has to pay the relatively low tax rate of a low-service nation -- the U.S.

Posted by
78 posts

Reading over my comment, I should add, of course, that there are other taxes one may owe in France, so it's not a complete escape for American retirees:

  • Value added tax (taxe de valeur ajoutée) of 20 percent on goods

  • Residency tax (taxe d'habitation) -- a complex formula yielding a tax on residents of property that amounts to about 800€ per year for us; however, this tax is being gradually phased out and is scheduled to disappear by 2023, no doubt to be replaced by some other tax or fee to keep local tax coffers filled

  • Property tax (taxe foncière) -- another formula applied by local tax authorities on owners of property. We don't own (yet), so I can't comment on this

  • Television tax (contribution à l'audiovisuel public) -- about 130€ per year owed by anyone who owns a television. This is to fund the generally abysmal French television productions, which seem largely to be small groups of people sitting in brightly-colored studios arguing with one another about current events.

  • Waste collection tax (taxe [or redevance] d'enlèvement des ordures ménagères) which is owed by the property owner but often is passed on to renters as part of their monthly rental bill -- we pay about 20€ per month

There probably are others I'm forgetting right now, so it's not a complete escape, but overall it seems to me to be a pretty good deal.

Duh update:

I forgot one of the key taxes -- the carte de séjour renewal fee, which for a typical 1-year card is 225€ per person per year. Payable in timbres fiscaux (fiscal stamps) -- formerly a comical process of buying the little adhesive stamps at a tabac and then watching the fonctionnaire at the préfecture guichet (window) lick and stick each one, one-by-one, but now thankfully an online purchase -- you just slide the printout over the counter to the person handling your application.

Posted by
1079 posts

A carte de séjour is typically valid for more than 1 year. If you reapply for residency each year, you more likely have a titre de séjour, not a carte de séjour. It typically takes 5 years of residency before one may apply for a carte de séjour.

Some rental agreements specify that the occupant pays the taxe foncière.

Posted by
352 posts


I'm starting this process myself. France dropped the four-year degree requirements for highly-skilled individuals, and my skillset is in high demand right now. I'll post my trials and travails here as they come up.

I was hoping to get out of the US before things get bad in a fall, but it doesn't look like I'm going to hit that deadline.

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
59 posts

If you are on Facebook, request to join a group named Americans in France. The administrator, Allison Lounes specializes in helping American's move to France. She has a book you can download called Foolproof French Visa's that lists all the visa types available and the requirements for each.

Posted by
1161 posts

Thanks for that reference, stacyl.

Allison's book looks like it is worth checking out.

Does anyone have a review of this book one way or the other?

Her website seems to be defunct, correct?

Posted by
173 posts

Without complicating more what is already a complicated issue, would it be to a person's advantage to have an EU passport for long term living in Europe?

I am eligible to get an Irish passport based on Irish ancestry; my sister did this many years ago & lived in Paris for many years using her Irish passport to avoid visa issues and to use the EU shorter lines at controls at airports. Not sure what the rules are today.

Bets, what say you?

Posted by
6795 posts

Tom—it would be useful for others who might have the same question if you started your own thread.

To answer—if you can do it, then why not. A woman who posts here from time to time, Kateja, lives in Amsterdam on her Irish passport. She also has her US citizenship and passport. Yes, you get through passport control faster in Europe, particularly if you have a biometric document. Yes, you can stay for years, or go back and forth in “normal” times.

Posted by
1079 posts

You absolutely want to take advantage of an Irish passport. You can obtain health care and live in the EU without the hassle and cost of applying for a titre de séjour. There is no downside really to taking advantage of the opportunity.

Posted by
1161 posts

I'd really like to hear from anyone who knows anything/heard anything about Allison Lounes and her services/advice.

Her book is pretty good, pretty extensive, and it contradicts some things I've heard from Stephen Heiner.

I've also heard that Allison has a poor reputation in Paris, but I've received no elaboration on that opinion.

Posted by
1079 posts

Much of what one might find in a book will likely be dated if not obsolete by the time the reader makes an application. If I were to apply for a long stay visa, I would start with the French government’s own website with suggested procedural steps here, or use the Visa Wizard here.

One of the more challenging aspects of a long term stay will be having accommodations in place, in advance. This can be researched using a realtor or an on line site such as Le Bon Coin, PAP, or Se Loger.

Finally, a website for visitors may not offer the expertise you need for accurate information about a long term stay. The Expat Forum is one of the very best sources for those with specific questions about what is required for a move to France.

Posted by
1161 posts

I don't know if you're talkin' to me, Tocard, but yes, thank you. I've registered on the France consulate/visa site and started the app.

And it looks like I have a place to stay!!!!

Now, what the heck do I do about the health insurance that the consulate wants?

Do I need to prepay for the whole year? to the tune of 5 or 6K???!!!


The issue here is probably French bureaucracy, one, and then different "experts" and people who have done the visa thing contradicting each others. Different day and/or agent, different answer.

C'est la vie.

Posted by
1079 posts

Barbara - For medical insurance, take a look at MSH insurance purchased through AARO. You would need to join AARO for a nominal fee but any expat should seriously look at what AARO offers.

In theory, after 3 months you qualify for l´Assurance Maladie. An application typically takes a few months to process and approve.

The Expat forum also has suggestions for medial coverage which will cost you far less than what you may think.

Posted by
78 posts

In theory, after 3 months you qualify for l´Assurance Maladie. An application typically takes a few months to process and approve.


Under current law, in fact after three months as a legal, regular resident in France, one qualifies for coverage under the French healthcare system. As a practical matter, obtaining the coverage to which one is entitled takes a few months beyond that threshold, but it's not a threshold "in theory."

Posted by
1161 posts

Thanks, Tocard and Sammy.

I am familiar with AARO but have not joined yet.

Does the Assurance maladie thing get you a Carte vitale? Or is that a later level of coverage? Only comes with the carte de sejour?

Yes, I've heard you can cancel the US plan you've arrived with and switch to a French plan.

I just got a quote from Cigna, but if I want a plan to start on January 1, say, I can only get it no more than 45 days in advance. But this might be after my consulate appointment.

So what to do?

Cigna wanted me to buy a plan now to start in August???? Or buy a plan in August to start in October??


I don't need it till January.

Posted by
1079 posts

Does the Assurance maladie thing get you a Carte vitale?


Or is that a later level of coverage? Only comes with the carte de sejour?

Carrying a Titre de séjour replaces the need to carry your passport and allows you to stay in Schengen during its period of validity. You will need a Titre de śejour to obtain a Carte vitale but applying for a Carte vitale is not mandatory. You must have medical insurance but private insurance can meet the medical requirement.

I have heard, no specific link, that you may ask to be reimbursed for medical expenses dating back to your Carte vitale application date even though you will not have received the actual card until later.

After holding a Titre de séjour for 5 consecutive years, you may request a Carte de séjour, valid for 10 years.