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Visas for ‘l’Autre Vie’ in France

Vanessa Parr, 04/07/12
Has it really been three years? 

A couple of weeks ago it dawned on me. Around this time in the year 2009, my husband and I made the big call to hand in our resignation notices and make a huge leap of faith to embark on a new adventure.

Given we are both Australian, a move to France wasn’t quite as simple as jumping on a plane and being welcomed with open arms by customs and immigration officials. That’s right; visas and paperwork were at the top of the list.

With the realisation that we were closing in on our third year in Bordeaux wine country, came the reality of the situation. Our visas are due to expire. Cue dark and dramatic music, and a minor panic attack. Well, maybe nothing that serious.

Vanessa Parr, 040712
This was never something that had really worried us, given three years felt like such a long time away (how time flies!). We were also told when we were issued with our originals, that we could renew them without much hassle. But you just never know.

Luckily for us, not long before we considered our new adventure, the French Government introduced a new class of visa, under the label ‘Compétences et Talents’. You might be asking: so you had to be competent and talented at what? Well, the idea of this concept was to consider foreigners for longer term entry into the country, who were going to bring an interesting project to the French people and economy.

With the two of us having an analytical background, and my professional role at the time being in business development, putting together a detailed business plan for our ‘project’ was right up our alley. Who knows if we went into overkill, but all I know is that it worked.

After months of pre-planning, research, and going from hot to cold to hot again on the whole idea, we managed to get an interview with just the right person at the French Consulate. He was seriously intrigued by our decision.

“You mean you want to leave your jobs in New York and move to France to run a guesthouse in the countryside?”

Vanessa Parr, 040712
Once we convinced him of our motives, and excitement at the prospect of this new life, it was with such relief that we heard the heavily French accented phrase “why not ?”

Leaving a wad of paperwork behind to support our move, from bank statements, and health insurance, to the precious and detailed business plan, we were told to come back in a week and pick up our visas.

Could it really be that simple? If it wasn’t so early in the morning, and we didn’t have to be back at the office, the champagne would have been flowing. Instead, the best I could do was dance around my husband down Fifth Avenue screaming, “We’re moving to France!”

Three years on, the paperwork doesn’t seem so daunting, with a mostly self explanatory check-list of things to include for the renewal process.

You might ask how we measured up to our business plan. We’re behind schedule of course, but surely that’s natural, right…? Maybe not, but the business is up and running and we can tick all of the boxes which is the main thing.

Vanessa Parr, 040712
For anyone thinking about a move to France, I would say don’t be put off by the stigma attached to French bureaucracy and red tape. A little bit of research can go a long way, and hopefully you’ll find the solution you’re looking for.

Image Credits:
1. Being creative with fruit from our trees, Vanessa Parr
2. A favourite past time, Vanessa Parr
3. Indulging in local specialties, Vanessa Parr
4. Our favourite place to sit, Vanessa Parr


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5 Comments




  1. Alison Eastaway
    7 years ago

    Thanks for such an inspiring article Vanessa! This has long been a dream of mine too, though made slightly easier by my soon-to-be-husband’s French nationality. But getting up the courage to leave well-paid corporate jobs is really commendable.


  2. Vanessa Parr
    7 years ago

    What lovely feedback Alison. It was certainly a big step for us, but we haven’t looked back. Congratulations on your up and coming wedding!


  3. Fitz
    7 years ago

    Bonjour, Vanessa. Je suis curieux (c-à-dire, je voudrais me renseigner sur quelque chose; je veux pas du tout donner à penser que je sois bizarre, malgré que ce soit la vérité!) Je voulais juste savoir: qu’est-ce qui distingue votre chambre d’hôte des autres; y a-t-il un aspect du service ou bien une prestation qu’on ne trouverait pas ailleurs. Autrement dit, qu’est-ce qu’il y a d’unique chez vous?


  4. Gisele
    7 years ago

    Hi Vanessa, thanks for your article – very inspiring. I am looking at a project that could take me to France for a short time, but a friend of mine was looking at what types of projects would allow him to move permanently from Canada to France under the Talents et Competences. He’s looked into the Visa details online, but there is not a lot of information to guide him. Do you have any other feedback that might help?


  5. Gisele
    7 years ago

    Hi Vanessa, thanks for your article – very inspiring. I am looking at a project that could take me to France for a short time, but a friend of mine was looking at what types of projects would allow him to move permanently from Canada to France under the Talents et Competences. He’s looked into the Visa details online, but there is not a lot of information to guide him. Do you have any other feedback that might help?