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“Ten Years Of Transitions, Trials And Tribulations”

My ten-year anniversary for living in Paris is coming up this September. Today I am reflecting on the transitions, trials and tribulations of these formidable years because later this afternoon, I will be sitting across from Jean Taquet, our favorite immigration specialist, who will help prepare me for applying for a “Carte de Résident.” That’s the visa so precious to obtain that will enable me to reside here freely for the next ten years, have the privilege of working here, paying tax here and taking advantage of the social services (free medical care, etc.).

The law says that one can apply for a Carte de Résident after having a “Carte de Séjour” for three years, but it’s not applied that way. You can request it, but if your Carte de Séjour was designated “Visiteur,” you might as well be talking to a brick wall — they make you wait the ten full years, just as I have, renew your visa every year, and jump all the hoops. I know, I’ve been through it. Hopefully, I’ve passed the test and the time has come that France will allow me to make it all official.

My daughter received her Carte de Résident not long ago simply because she had spent more than half her life in France (although you may remember it wasn’t a simple process), and now because she has it, can apply for citizenship, which she is planning to do this summer. For her, it’s an even bigger advantage, as citizenship in France will afford her the additional rights to vote, attend French universities at virtually no tuition and work in any European Union country. I suppose I can consider citizenship, too, as there are enormous advantages to holding both U.S. and France passports.

In looking back to when I first came without knowing that the one-year “sabbatical” in France would pass to ten and hardly be a breeze, I remember particular points of the transition process as poignant…

Learning French: In the beginning, I thought with an intensive course I’d be fluent in three months. Wrong. Finally, after ten years, I can see a movie in French without subtitles and understand most of it. Fluency? No way! But, can I manage?…yes, and even make light jokes in French they can sometimes get!

Crossing the cultural divide: One of the toughest transitions to make, I have come to realize I will never BE French, nor do I really want to be. But, now I can see the cultural differences very clearly, understand them to their utter core and have “crossed” to the French side on many issues. One tough part about “crossing” is that when I’m Stateside, it’s like being in no man’s land — I’m no longer a part of that culture — and feel much more at home among the French aliens. It is inevitably a culture shock that takes place the moment of arrival at either airport.

Point of View: There is simply no way to go in reverse, before crossing the Atlantic and seeing life from a broader perspective. Once you step out of your own back yard to where the grass is just as green, but a different shade, and you are on the outside looking in instead of on the inside looking out, you will never see the world from through the same eyes. There is no education more worthwhile than living outside our own realms to learn what life is really all about.

So, I warn you…those of you thinking about making the transition from the world you’ve always known to the one here we talk so much about. You’ll never be the same and you’ll never regret it.

A la prochaine…


Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]

P.S. Jean Taquet will be speaking at our upcoming Working and Living in France Conference June 18 – 20 here in Paris on Obtaining the Right to Be in France. You’ll be hearing more about the conference in detail in just a day or two and how we’ll be kicking it off with a special private tour of Paris’ most beautiful building…the Hôtel de Ville! For more information, visit /frenchproperty/conference/wlif/wlif_home.html or email Schuyler Hoffman at [email protected]


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