I’ve been thinking about starting a separate thread on my life and experiences in Paris for a while, as most of the threads here are either focused on high-end dining (Michelin Starred) or narrow in scope (best cassoulet, charcuterie, etc.). I’m grateful for the dumptruck-load of recommendations I’ve picked up at WB from beer bars in Sweden to what to do in the Loire, so if you find enjoyment in the thread, happy I could be of service. Posts will be somewhat random, based on whatever’s going on, or if I think it would be useful (i.e. I’ll probably post a quick blurb on how to use the metro, because it’s incredibly easy and goes everywhere).
A little background, first. I moved here on Nov 2, 2016 with my wife and four kids. I was fortunate enough to find a role that was a good fit with a company that was willing to sponsor the move, so we sold the house and cars, donated most of what we owned and took off for Paris. If this is something you’re considering, feel free to PM or post and I’ll answer anything I can. Know that the process is a pain and can take months. After getting US passports for the kids, we had to apply for a long-stay visa (visa de long sejour) through the French Embassy (in person, for anyone 12+) and travel back and forth to SF to pick up the passports, afterwards. The volume of paperwork is insane for six people, all of which must be translated to French and good luck if your marriage license is signed by a pastor and gets translated incorrectly Process took two months.
Next step was getting an apartment (you need an agent), turning on the electricity/cable/etc. and then buying literally everything in the place, including a stove and fridge… and light fixtures. When they say “unfurnished” here, they mean unfurnished. Side note - lease terms are one year for a furnished place (and “furnished” is a loosely-used term) or three years for unfurnished. I opted for the latter, as I didn’t want to deal with the idea of having to move again after a year.
Once you have an apartment, you apply for a residency permit (carte de sejour) with the local prefecture. This is another long, drawn-out process that requires appointments at the police station, where you pay for the permit with stamps purchased at a bar / tobacco shop. No, really. It’s an anti-corruption thing which I’ve yet to figure out that involves buying stamps (same process for traffic tickets) and affixing them to your permit application. 268 euros = a lot of stamps, so they were pasted all over the place. Add another two months for this, with absolutely zero sense of urgency on the French side… which can be worrisome if you’re flying in and out of the Schengen area on a regular basis. My wife and I got our Residency Permits 7 months after originally starting the visa process, and are now pushing the kids’ applications through. Pretty decent summary of the process here → https://www.thoughtco.com/french-long-stay-visa-application-process-1369705
Other side note - The European Union != Schengen Area, of which France is a part of. The Schengen Area is pretty analogous to the US in the sense that you can go from member country to member country without dealing with immigration / passport control. England and Ireland are not part of Schengen, so you get the “why are you coming to Dublin” and a passport stamp.
Enough of the boring stuff, will post on cream next, as that’s been our latest adventure.