Monday, April 11, 2011

How to Live in Paris - Part 1

Please get me out of this snow!!!  I want to go to Paris!
My poor old car awaits word about my visa.

If you’re like me or maybe even if you are not, then you probably want to live in Paris.  After my first 90 days I made the decision that I wanted to spend a lot more time in Paris and I made a list of the practical ways that I could do this.  As the age old proverb states, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

As a Canadian, I am allowed to stay in any of the Schengen countries (a list of the countries is here in Europe for 90 days out of every 180 day period.  For those unwilling to do the math, this is roughly 6 months of the year with considerable breaks, e.g. three months on, three months off, every other month, every other fortnight, every other week.  For me, this period seemed inadequate, particularly considering that my Parisian fantasy was to acquire an unfurnished apartment and fill it with furniture of my very own.

To accomplish my dream I would need a visa that would allow me to stay at least a year without interruption.  The French Consulate in Vancouver provides a list of the possible types of Long Stay Visas available to citizens of Canada wishing to apply (  There are similar websites in the United States.  Be sure that you look up the website for the area for which you.  A Torontonian can’t apply in Vancouver and a Vancouverite can not apply in Toronto, so the Francophile must first choose the correct embassy.
My first meal in Paris.  Lamb, potatoes and some kind of
yummy sauce that was just really really good.

I decided that I would not seek employment in France.  I love a challenge, but my high-school French would likely outweigh all of my job-hunting skills and also, I hope never to get a job ever again, even if it means a visa for France.  I also ruled out school.  When I parted with academia, I was quite certain that I’d never return.  Religious training?  No.  Artist?  No.  NGO volunteer?  No.  The only thing left for me was the visa for “Staying in France without working or studying.”

My chosen visa would require that I prove three basic things to the French government, 1) that I had enough money to stay in France for a year, 2) that I would not be a liability to the state and 3) that I was able to follow instructions on a visa form.  The list of paperwork required is lengthy and the three basic things end up being 14 separate bits of paperwork (the list is here:  Please note that this list is different than the list for French consulates on American soil… seek the list you need!).

The Consulate will point out that it will take 2-3 weeks from when you have your visa appointment until you will have your passport returned with the visa physically stamped inside it.  2-3 weeks is nothing! This paperwork will take 3 or 4 months to complete!  Plan to be scrambling around gathering papers for at least 3-4 months before telling your friends and family that you’ll be in Paris.

Stay tuned for Part 2!  I’ll tell you how to get the papers together that you’ll need for your visa.  I may even do another step to talk about shipping a car... which appears that it will be almost as difficult as shipping myself.

Your friend,


  1. Hello Robyn!

    I've enjoyed reading your blog, and will soon have many questions for you. I am planning on living in Paris with my son one day and have found comfort in reading your experiences :O)Thank you and I will keep in touch shortly,


  2. Paris is really a nice places for traveling aw well as for living over there. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post with us. And many of us want to settle down in Paris. And it's not that difficult to stay over there. I am also looking to visit Paris with lowest airfare next month.