Around France

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

If you’re looking for an expat guidebook, 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. It went into storage if it didn’t fit in the new location. 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 Uzès, I think a few things are going with me that 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 with 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, 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 lightning, so noisy airplane sounds would scare him to death. It wouldn’t be fair to put him through the stress. He will 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 is 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 returned to find an apartment in Uzès. As fate would have it, a perfect place in the center of the historic village became 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, customary in France, and an insurance agreement for the apartment. (The lease can be broken anytime for various reasons, including relocation.)

I brought the legal materials home so my attorney could check the details. One crucial fact to know about renting in France, different from the US, is an “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 pretty 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 ensure all is in order. Then it’s mine!

Getting a Visa

An extended stay visa is required for anyone from the US visiting France for 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 for 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, which can take a minimum of 21 days to complete.

When I first investigated the consulate website, I discovered you can only make visa appointments 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 lovely lady who answered the phone at the consulate, and I told her that I was planning to spend money in her wonderful country, she said she’d call me when there was a cancellation. I have an appointment on August 8.

The move

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


expat guide book

My apartment building!

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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