Around France

Moving to France: So Much To Do, So Little Time

If you’re looking for an expat guide book, perhaps this will help. Moving to France is like any other move. You have to pack up your stuff to get there.

In my case, that means getting rid of 40 years worth of stuff before I pack. Most things I should have gotten rid of years ago. Instead, I’ve gone from place to place, schlepping all this with me. If it didn’t fit in the new place, it went into storage. Today is a new day. Stuff isn’t as important as it used to be. It’s time to start fresh.

Moving to France looks like this

Since I have to furnish the apartment in Uzes, a few things are going with me that I think will be useful. I’ll buy furniture and other items when I get there, probably second hand, and sell them when I leave. I’ll be done to one storage place. (Down from 4!) Everything else is being sold.

Estate sale. Done!

A new home for Bentley

Sometimes love means saying you’re sorry and moving on, alone. Even though I could take my beloved labradoodle, Bentley, with me to Uzes (France loves dogs), I don’t think he would survive the journey. Bentley weighs 65 pounds so he’d have to ride under the airplane along with the luggage for the long flight. He’s frightened by lightening so noisy airplane sounds would scare him to death. It wouldn’t be fair to put him through the stress. He’s going to live with my son and daughter-in-law who have a goldendoodle, Maddy. He’s been visiting with them since my trip to France and he’s happy as a clam.

Renting an apartment

As you remember, I cut my travel adventures short when I decided to move to France. Instead of exploring Barcelona, I went back to find an apartment in Uzes. As fate would have it, a perfect place in the center of the historic village came available for rent. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! The rental agent from the Fonzia agency spoke good enough English to lead me through the process. First I had to open a bank French bank account. Then I had to sign a 3-year lease, which is customary in France, and an insurance agreement for the apartment. (The lease can be broken at any time for a variety of reasons, including relocation.)

I brought the legal materials home with me so my attorney could check the details. One important fact to know about renting in France, different from in the US, is a “honorarium”. It’s a “finders fee” owed to the agency for handling the rental transaction and it’s shared between the property owner and the renter. It’s quite expensive. In fact, it cost more than a month’s rent for my share.

After the papers are all signed, I’ll inspect the apartment to insure all is in order. Then it’s mine!

Getting a Visa

A long stay visa is required for anyone from the US visiting in France more than 90 days. A US passport allows you to be there only 90 days every six months. With a long stay visa you can stay 12 months. Getting a visa is easier said than done in SC. You have to go in person to the French Consulate in Atlanta to start the application process that can take a minimum of 21 days to complete.

When I first investigated the consulate website, I discovered you can make appointments for visas only through their online tool. The online calendar showed there were no appointments available until October. So I did what the website said not to do. I called the office. After I explained what I wanted to the nice lady who answered the phone at the consulate, and I told her that all I am planning to do is to spend money in her wonderful country, she said she’d call me when there was a cancellation. I have an appointment August 8.

The move

All that’s left is for me to do, after sorting out my stuff, is to get back to Uzes. The timeframe for finishing the visa process is up on the air. But if it goes smoothly, I should be in France by early September. Stay tuned!


expat guide book

My apartment building!

For more of this expat guide book, check out these Barefoot Blogger posts:

Expat Tips: Nothing Is Easy About Moving To France

Expat Tips on Moving to France: Visas and More

12 replies »

  1. Reading about your move to France reminds me so much of when i moved to japan. i also went to Atlanta for my visa. It took longer to get to Atlanta than the tim I spent at their office! japan also loves dogs;but mine stayed at home. I went there for 2 years and stayed 2.5 years! I am so glad you’re doing a blog. i had planned to and ended up not doing it. Moving to a different country takes much energy!!!!

    • Cecilia, I remember well when you went to Japan. I was in awe of you making the move. Yes, it’s more difficult that you want it to be. But at the end of the day, it’s so worth it to be able to live in a different culture. Wish you had blogged, too. Maybe it’s not too late to recapture your memories and photos with captions. I’m working on this for when I’m in the nursing home!

  2. Hi Debbie,

    I am just buying a wonderful 2 bedroom place in historic Uzes for my next fractional ownership property. It would be lovely to meet you while there (landing May 21st). My email is I’m especially interested in learning more about the details for a longer term visa as my husband and I hope to make 6 month vs 3 month visits in the near future. What kind of requirements are they seeking?

    Ginny Blackwell
    Finger Lakes, NY

  3. Debby! I’m so proud of you-and not one bit surprised-if anyone can do this it’s you!
    It’s so neat that a place in the historic district became available for you! Sorry to miss the estate sale 🙁
    I can’t wait to see lots of pictures of your new apartment.
    I hope there is a French Dottie McDaniel awaiting your friendship!

  4. Bonjour, mon ami! Je suis tellement heureuse pour vous. Hier, j’ai vu Arlene qui est venu pour ramasser un morceau de l’art, elle a acheté et nous commencer immédiatement la planification d’une visite en France. Bonne chance à Atlanta!

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