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Survival Home in Paris

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June 2021

Thunder awoke me I sat up my feet on the floor
Silver the lightning that shattered the lock on my door
Feel like I’ve lived my life long
Just waiting for this day to dawn

Racing through time toward the light
We just do what we must
We’re more than just ashes our spirits are more than just dust
Ancient we stood in the sun
Older when time first began
Now by the light shining through from within
We’ll find our way back to the stars once again

“Awakening” is the fourth song on Freedom at Point Zero, the fifth album by Jefferson Starship, released in 1979.

I could have chosen the similarly titled Alice Cooper song, “The Awakening,” from the album Welcome to My Nightmare, released in 1975. But since I wanted to allude to the almost overnight revival of Paris and France in general, the latter was surely not the right choice. I believe there is a lot more to say by juxtaposing “Awakening” and Freedom at Point Zero. In our current context, this should spark some interesting discussion.

On May 19th most lockdown limitations were lifted and, in a matter of a couple of days, Paris woke up and was alive again. Such a radical change in such a short time made a significant impression on me. As I rode my bicycle home in the northern part of the 11th arrondissement, people crowded the cafés, the sidewalks and, in some places, even the streets. Earlier in the day, the shops had opened again. I have seen and heard many people use the expression “Paris woke up,” and it describes exactly what I saw.

France’s vaccination campaign is gaining in momentum and it is possible there will be no new wave of infection as the number of vaccinated people increases.

Considering now how close it is, it can be assumed that on June 9th vaccinated Americans will be allowed to visit France using only their American passport with proof of vaccination and other sanitary documents that might be required. The French authorities refer to accueil des touristes étrangers avec passe sanitaire. This applies to all non-EU foreigners and not just to Americans. In the USA and other countries, people talk about a vaccine card or vaccine passport. Governments are promoting – and, in France, implementing – the principle that to regain total freedom of movement, travelers must be able to prove they have been vaccinated. Some see it as a form of coercion, which it is. In France, this is a common way of implementing policies.

This is a significant change in immigration policy and I believe it signals that French consulates are likely to resume handling all types of visa requests sometime this summer. I do not have a specific date – unfortunately, as I am asked about this almost daily.

I should be able to give more details in the July-August issue, just before vacation.


There have always been two ways to provide an affidavit of lodging when submitting a visa request for France: 
1 – a document signed only by the person making the request or 
2 – a document issued by the town hall where the person will be staying.

Recently, questions arose regarding a communication from the UK government on foreign travel advice for France at . The Foreign Office put out this alert about the post-Brexit, post-lockdown rules for short visits by British nationals to France. In addition to advising British visitors to consult information on travel requirements posted on French governmental sites, it notes.

“At French border control your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You should also be prepared to … show proof of where you intend to stay for example, a booking confirmation or proof of address if visiting your own property (e.g., second home).” It specifies that if staying with friends or family, “you may be requested to provide an ‘attestation d’accueil’ (welcome invitation) from your host,” and links to

There is a considerable difference between the affidavit of lodging (attestation d’hébergement) and theattestation d´accueil. The affidavit of lodging(attestation d’hébergement) comprises at least three documents: 

  • a statement signed by the person hosting.
  • a copy of an official ID, such as a passport or national ID card
  • a proof of address less than three months old, usually a utility or internet provider bill or a home insurance statement.

This set of documents is commonly used at the prefecture and the consulate when asking for a long stay visa, regardless of type.

The ‘welcome invitation’ or ‘attestation d´accueil’ is a document issued by the local town hall in France after inquiries about the premises where the visitors are staying. It has to be requested in advance, and can be denied. It is used for short stays in private homes by nationals of countries not benefiting from the Schengen visa waiver program, which allows travel in the EU without a visa.

Since the publication of my first column in March 1994, I have received my share of critical responses. Sometimes people get angry regardless of how hard I try to stay neutral in what I present. I often remind my readership that I am French, living and working in France, and one of my main objectives is to share my analysis on issues I find striking to illustrate the differences and similarities between how things work in France and elsewhere, hoping to encourage better understanding.

In recent years, a lot of issues have deeply polarized the US population. Addressing some of them can bring vehement responses. Across the entire spectrum of US news media, something they all refer to frequently is the balance of power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Many consider this the best structure to ensure the most democratic system possible. But it is also an oddity compared to much of the world, where the executive branch usually has more control over the other two.

The US political system uses the constitution the Founding Fathers drafted, with only slight modification over the centuries. By contrast, in the same period most European countries have changed their political regimes several times. The only French attempt to have such a perfectly balanced set-up was during the Second Republic, from February 24th, 1848, to December 2nd, 1852. It ended when President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte staged a coup and became Emperor Napoléon III, whereupon the French democratic system disappeared once again. The current system, the Fifth Republic, was established by General de Gaulle on October 5th, 1958. The leader of the opposition at the time, François Mitterrand, wrote a book about the new system called Le Coup d’État permanent – which can roughly be translated as “ongoing military coup,” and indeed so it appeared to many.

Thus, France’s attempt to duplicate the US balance of powers lasted less than five years. Throughout most of its history, France has either had a visibly strong leader or was longing for one. One possible reason the Fifth Republic has lasted so long is that it took this preference into consideration and established a presidential regime in which the scales are heavily tilted in favor of the president.

As a Frenchman, I took great interest in studying the 45th US president, who differed considerably from his predecessors, seeming closer to a French president in his approach to power. It had nothing to do with being liberal or conservative, or trying to position myself on the American political spectrum.

Below, in two parts, is a message from a reader, which is what triggered my desire to explain my vantage point when I titled my April 2021 issue “Magic Man.” Receiving this type of message reminds me how wide the spectrum of my readership is. Again, I do make a conscious effort to address issues in a non-partisan way.

Your choice of word “idolatry” describing the Trump followers made me pause. Since Hillary Clinton’s comments characterizing the Republicans as “a Basket of Deplorables,” I am aware of the left contempt for the right. They have attacked them physically and verbally, they have ridiculed and called them stupid, not sophisticated, mid-westerners, and other insults. Just putting this idolatry aside for one moment, how do you call the millions of people who elected a feeble, senile, lying career politician as Commander in Chief who mumbles, “I don’t know what I am signing, but I’m gonna sign these Executive Orders”? On top of everything he can’t take his hands and his lips off girls and women (just watch the videos of women trying to get away from his embraces). Magic Man would not work for Biden, creepy old man will do! This guy should be in assisted living not the President of the United States! Trump seen as a Magic Man is ridiculous. He was not a politician for sure, he is a builder, and that’s what people who voted for him wanted: 1. No more corruption from Washington. 2. Rebuild America. 3. Treat it as a business, in which Trump excelled at. 4. Give a voice to the hard-working Americans or any hard-working average guy who just want to achieve the American Dream: raise children, have house in the proverbial white picket fence around it for the dog. Let’s assume that Trump supporters idolized their man because he put America first and back to work with the lowest unemployment in decades (including minorities). Where is Obama advocating for Black people not to resist arrest and just calmly comply with the police, show a license and proof of insurance instead of a gun or a knife or running away?

Each European country has a different political spectrum. One determinant is which political party has elected representatives at the national level. This makes an especially significant difference when there are only two main parties, as in the UK, as opposed to the situation in, say, Italy with more than ten. The political spectrum of the countries in continental Europe is a lot more like the Italian model than the British one. Recent developments throughout Europe have shattered the old model of two alliances, conservatives versus progressive, so it has become more difficult to position political life in these countries along those lines.

One thing that seems obvious to me is that the US spectrum, as exemplified by Congress, is about half as wide as that typically found in continental Europe. The left side of the US spectrum, compared to that of western Europe, is nearly non-existent. This is nothing new; even the more liberal US presidents have fallen between moderate conservatives and centrist liberals by European standards. The fact that all European countries have a strong social net fundamentally changes which issues separate conservatives and progressives.

The American expat community in European countries seems to alternate between criticizing European bureaucracy and applauding the astonishing benefits all residents get. Both of those aspects are the consequence of widespread social programs. Europe no longer has prominent political parties espousing Marxism, but it did between 1950 to 1980. I have yet to identify any US political leaders even remotely connected to Marxism in the sense of the political philosophy defined by Karl Marx.

Last year incidents that caused all this unrest and Marxism uprising in the US (what the left call peaceful protests) involved Black people who had warrant arrests, criminal charges, and were known drug addicts and/or traffickers. Hopefully, the above will give you another perspective of some stories – not the ones that you might get (by design) on the French liberal channels and newspapers. I am not sure why and how you get your inspiration of writing your professional, legal comments on your otherwise very interesting subjects from some songs. Just curious. Is it where we are in France? No intellectual curiosity anymore? How about philosophical, historical quotes? “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And weak men create hard times” would be very à propos.

French banks have a monopoly on lending money to the public, so the legal requirements regarding loans between friends and relatives are not widely known. When the debtor borrows over 5,000 euros, he has to report it to the tax office. (Before September 27th, 2020, the limit was 760€.) It does not matter whether the loan is recorded in writing or whether interest is expected. If a notaire or lawyer draws up the loan contract, they take care of the declaration.

A person can lend more than 5,000 euros as a global amount through small loans i.e., less than 5,000 euros each to multiple individuals in a given year. Because each debtor has borrowed less than the limit, he/she does not have the obligation to declare. Now because the total of these sums comes to more than 5,000 euros, the creditor must declare all those loans, and must include the names and addresses of both parties; the date; the amount and the loan conditions, particularly the duration; the interest rate, if any; and the terms of repayment.

If the loan is granted at interest, the lender must declare the interest received on the annual tax return. Except in the case of a global option for the progressive income tax scale, interest payments are subject to the single flat-rate deduction of 30% (12.8% for income tax and 17.2% for social).

This described the fiscal obligation. There is also a legal obligation. For any amount greater than 1,500 euros, the civil code requires submission of a written document to prove it is a loan and not a gift. This document can be an acknowledgment of debt (I.O.U.) signed by the borrower or a formal loan agreement signed by both parties. It is registered at the local tax office and costs 125 euros. The main purpose is to certify the date of the transaction, which makes it more difficult to contest.

Over the holidays, my assistant, Sarah, took an interesting initiative and created a new Facebook page. It is a good move for her since she and I both moderate it. She can show off her expertise and her ability to give good advice and clearly explain solutions. She does this in French, leaving the queries in English to me.

Since I am already active in a few Facebook groups and my website is my main showcase, I did not feel I needed such a page. On the other hand, it will no doubt benefit her. I do not have the time to monitor this forum and so far, it has been fairly quiet. Sarah is still figuring out how to handle this new task, being quite busy herself. I am sure it will be a great space for exchange, and hope it will pick up in the near future.

You are welcome to join:

The office will be closed for a month and a half, starting Friday, July 9th, and reopening on Monday, August 23rd. As always, I will be reachable by email for emergencies and important matters. My service of receiving mail for clients will continue while the office is closed.

Best regards,


I see you have done some serious research about the various types of French immigration status. Still, I need to describe some fundamentals related to immigrating to France so as to identify the types of status you could choose from before leaving the final decision to you, as well as explaining what is normally available and what can be asked for at the moment. Your project must be looked at from a couple as well as family perspective, keeping in mind thatpasseport talent immigration status comes with benefits for spouse and the children.
1. In normal circumstances, there are six categories of immigration status available to non-EU citizens:
• visiteur
• étudiant
• salarié
• vie privée & familiale
• commerçant & artisan
• passeport talent

Each has several sub-categories. The best way to proceed is to start with a professional project in France. Once done, this eliminates most of the possibilities and narrows the choice down to the few linked to the project.

2. In creating a business in France, there has traditionally been a huge difference between three types of professional status:
• profession libérale
• artisan
• commerçant.

As part of President Macron’s general policy of modernizing France, these differences are fading away. But there are still differences regarding registration process, immigration procedure and taxation. Thus it is critical to know where your project fits in. So here are some definitions:
Profession libérale
The professional is paid for services rendered; these services cannot involve any sale of physical items. Sometimes, rendering the service includes leaving things with the client. As long as the fee paid is announced as a total price, it complies with the regulation.
For example, a consultant offers the service of registering French corporations, including publication of an ad in a special journal of legal announcements. Part of the overall service is running the ad and buying several issues of the publication, which are then given to the client. This is not a “buy to sell” transaction but part of the consultant’s mission.

The artisan is someone who has mastered a craft or trade acquired through extensive training. It involves performing tasks, such as carpentry, plumbing, hairdressing or baking. What is sold determines which sub-category it fits in.

The merchant buys things to sell without modifying them. The category mainly concerns shops, but also applies to such activities as hotels, public transport – and fitness clubs. Your description leads me to believe that your activity fits in this category.

3. Which visas are currently available? For your profile as defined above, only the passeport talent offers the sub-categories you will want to choose from. Here are the 10 sub-categories:
• jeunes diplômés qualifiés salariés ou salariés d’une jeune entreprise innovante (does not apply in your case)
• travailleurs hautement qualifiés (carte bleue européenne) (does not apply)
 salariés en mission (does not apply)
• chercheurs (does not apply)
• créateurs d’entreprise (could apply)
• porteurs d’un projet économique innovant (does not apply)
 investisseurs économiques (could apply)
 mandataires sociaux (could apply)
 artistes interprètes (does not apply)
 étrangers ayant une renommée nationale ou internationale (domaine scientifique, littéraire, artistique, intellectuel, éducatif ou sportif) (does not apply).

And here are the requirements of the three that apply in your case.
Créateurs d’entreprise
In addition to the standard demand that the project be viable, the French administration has two extra requirements:
spending 30,000 euros in the first year of business in France
proving that you have a master’s degree or five years of experience in the field.
Your business model requires renting commercial space to open a studio, the rent for which alone would likely cost more than that even before taking into account the equipment and decor. Thus your focus must be on an excellent business plan, proving your ability to finance it and enough savings to survive about a year with few clients.

Investisseurs économiques
The main requirement is to invest 300,000 euros in a French business, either an existing one or one you establish. The business plan here, too, is critical but the focus is different. You need a French bank account statement showing this sum credited to the account. The file must show where the money comes from, as it has a foreign source. The business plan shows what it will finance. Note that once you add up rent, salaries, equipment purchase and other costs, this seemingly large amount is not that huge anymore. I consider it a viable option unless proven otherwise. If you have the means to make this possible, I strongly advise picking this one. As the saying goes, “Money talks” – which may be one reason the number of documents to present the project and the business is much lower than for the previous one. This sum of money proves for the most part the initial viability of the business.

Mandataires sociaux
To open a fitness studio, you will need a limited liability structure. Even with the best professional insurance, if someone gets hurt, a million-dollar lawsuit could result. Thus a corporation is formed to limit the liability of running the activity to the corporation itself, alleviating liability against the individuals involved. In France, this means creating a personne morale, which in this case can be translated as a corporation.
You will see a few acronyms once you do some research:
EURL = a one-person corporation that can be the subsidiary of an American corporation
SARL = a minimum two-person corporation (they can be spouses)
SASU = a one-person corporation that can be the subsidiary of an American corporation
SAS = a minimum two-person corporation (they can be spouses).

The person identified as holding the senior management position of one of these corporations has the status of mandataire social. Thus, this status may be better for you, since you need to create such a corporation because of the nature of your project.

4. What are the benefits of each, and why choose one over another? There are major differences between the three, even though they are all part of the passeport talent category. One feature they all have is that, since the status they confer is vie privée & familiale, which includes unrestricted work rights, the so-called “trailing” spouse has the right to work. This is a major benefit: the spouse can work in the business, including as an employee, as well as for any third party.
Another feature is that the carte de séjour issued once the process is complete can last up to four years. There is no guarantee of this, butinvestisseurs économiques and mandataires sociaux virtually always get four-year cards.
The other one, créateurs d’entreprise, will be scrutinized more by both the French consulate and the prefecture, which both have a history of skepticism regarding this category. Hence it is more difficult to get the related visa and there are fewer chances that the card will be valid for four years. The prefecture hardly ever believes the business will last that long.
Now that you know all that, you have a strategic decision to make. You need to decide your priorities in correlation with your means and the amount of work you want to put into this procedure.


Survival Home in Paris

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