I understand that to get a French Visa, you need to show an address where you will be living. If you don't know which city, or even a local address in a city, how can you give an address to authorities? I also understand that you have to show proof of health insurance, do you have to purchase this ahead of time, before you are cleared for a Visa? Any suggestions on health insurance companies? Thanks for any help in answering these questions. Cliff
How long do you plan to be in France?
I plan on being in France for 6-12 months. Cliff
Is your intent to travel around, or settle in one place?
I would like to visit a number of cities in France before settling down in one place. When I find a city of my liking I would like to stay 6-12 months, if I liked living in France, I might stay for good. I have traveled to many cities in France in the past, it would be hard to say which one I like best. Weather is a consideration.
I got a VISA last year. You should go to the French Consulate's website for your area, all the required documentation for the VISA will be listed. I rented an apartment, and knew the address which I included on my application. If you are planning to stay at a hotel, or friend's place at first, include this address. When I arrived in France, the French immigration office sent me mail (at the address I originally gave them) and you must check in with them and go through more processing. At that time they pretty much want verification of your permanent address in France. If you will be traveling around to various places I am not sure how to handle it, but perhaps you could designate one place to receive mail from them. You also have a brief medical exam. I also had to supply proof of having health insurance (which was through my work). You have to have this upfront. You probably need to get a traveler's insurance policy.
You also need to show them proof of your return flight out of France.
Cliff - you make it sound so simple, that you can just come to France and decide to stay permanently. As an American living in Europe, I can confirm it is not that easy. Europe (countries within the Schengen zone) has very tight immigration controls and you need to jump through great hoops to stay permanently. You should really research this further.
My experience with a French visa, though many years ago now, was very similar to BG's. There are bureaucratic hoops to jump through, even once you arrive. I strongly suggest you work closely with the nearest French consulate to answer your questions and get them exactly what they need, not random strangers on a help forum.
Cliff, obtaining a long stay, visitor visa isn't easy. The bureaucracy of the French government makes the US government look simplistic. here's a link that outlines the process:
http://www.consulfrance-sanfrancisco.org/spip.php?article1799 You'll have to make an appointment to appear in person at the nearest consulate office. They've actually simplified it since I went through the process. Don't be surprised if you have to have some or all of the documentation translated into French. Do you know anyone living in France or a friend of a friend? You can use their address. As for insurance, an internet search on international health insurance will give you a myriad of options. Bon chance!
You do nee an address (even if only a temporary address) and you do need proof of health insurance. If you don't know what you want to do with your time in France (which it sounds like if you don't know where you want to be) then you may get your visa application rejected. The process isn't hard, but you must follow all the insturctions and bend to the whim of the French beauracracy. You will have some follow-up to do to get your visa validated once you are in France, which is part of why you need to provide an address of where you are going.
Our translation (albeit for Germany) had to be notarized and an apostille from our state's secretary of state affixed to be accepted. This wasn't too hard for us to do, but it took about four extra weeks. France, from what I understand, can be choosier on what they accept so it's good to check before making an appointment, arriving at the consulate, and discovering you have to come all over again.