Newsletter Subscribers



Survival Home in Paris

Visit our partners




November 2020

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

There was a time when it seemed as if everyone knew this song. Many knew the lyrics by heart and would sing them anytime, anywhere. It was an anthem for a generation. It felt like the only discussion was about how realistic this vision was, separating the dreamers from more realistic people. What was and is interesting to me is that such a vision was considered to be the proper goal for humanity.

“Imagine” is a song by English rock musician John Lennon from his 1971 album of the same name. The best-selling single of his solo career, its lyrics encourage listeners to imagine a world at peace without the barriers of borders or the divisions of religion and nationality and to consider the possibility that the whole of humanity would live unattached to material possessions. Shortly before his death, Lennon said that much of the song’s lyrics and content came from his wife, Yoko Ono, and in 2017 she received co-writing credit.

Lennon and Ono co-produced the song with Phil Spector. Recording began at Lennon’s home studio at Tittenhurst Park, England, in May 1971, with final overdubs taking place at the Record Plant, in New York City, during July. In October, Lennon released “Imagine” as a single in the United States, where it peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was first issued as a single in Britain in 1975, to promote the compilation Shaved Fish, and reached number six on the UK Singles Chart that year. It later topped the chart following Lennon’s murder in 1980.

BMI named “Imagine” one of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century. In 1999, it was ranked number 30 on the RIAA’s list of the 365 “Songs of the Century”, earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”. A 2002 UK survey conducted by the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles book named it the second-best single of all time, while Rolling Stone ranked it number three in the 2004 list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. Since 2005, event organizers have played the song just before the New Year’s Times Square Ball drops in New York City.

By 2013, “Imagine” had sold over 1.6 million copies in the UK. More than 200 artists have performed or covered the song, including Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez, Lady Gaga, Elton John, and Diana Ross. After “Imagine” was featured at the 2012 Summer Olympics, the song re-entered the UK Top 40, reaching number 18. In March 2020, in response to the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, the actress Gal Gadot posted an informal but star-studded cover version of “Imagine” on Instagram. The song remains controversial, as it has been since its release, over its request to imagine “no religion too”.

This once iconic song seems to have faded away and it seems that only a few baby boomers dare to mention it and dare to believe that, against what the world is today, its ideals are a goal to strive for. I dare to believe, however, that there are many people fighting for this goal. It has just shifted some – to the fight against climate change and to the struggle to save the planet and the people living here.

In several issues I have addressed how divided the American population is. As someone who likes to look at modern events through the lenses of 100 years of history (or more if needed), the claims that the USA has not been this divided since the Civil War ignore the New Deal policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy. FDR was portrayed as a pawn in the hands of the USSR, taking orders from Moscow. The viciousness of much of the American media against him can sadly be compared to the worst on today’s social media. Similar hysteria existed when JFK ran for and won the 1960 election. Because he was Catholic, he was declared unfit to be president, as he would be obeying the pope. He was also depicted as a traitor for his supposed allegiance to a higher authority. Reading about those periods opened my eyes and increased my interest in learning more about American history. The civil rights movement, the opposition to the Vietnam war and the riots that occurred mainly in the 1960s are better known to the American public. Comparison is often misleading, especially when dealing with historical events. Lately, I am seeing statements like “It feels like the ’60s demonstrations again” from a lot of my readers. Interestingly to me, they talk about the Monterrey festival as a turning point, more than Woodstock.

This trend must be quite strong, as Netflix has just dug up another iconic moment of that era, the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young endlessly sang their song “Chicago” detailing the events of that week. Today there is The Trial of the Chicago 7.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a 2020 American historical legal drama film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. The film follows the Chicago Seven, a group of anti–Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It features an ensemble cast that includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Daniel Flaherty, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Noah Robbins, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, and Jeremy Strong.

At one point I got very interested in how the Yippie movement went into the political debate and became a structured political force. Jerry Rubin, the leader of this political force, had faded into anonymity until Netflix aired this program. People interested in these matters could learn a lot comparing Jerry Rubin’s actions and his political goals to what the USA is living through today. Again, who remembers him?

Jerry Clyde Rubin (July 14, 1938 – November 28, 1994) was an American social activist, anti-war leader, and counterculture icon during the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1980s, he became a successful businessman. He is known for being one of the co-founders of the Youth International Party (YIP), whose members were referred to as Yippies.

After all this, I doubt any reader will be surprised that I read Rubin’s book DO IT!: Scenarios of the Revolution (1970) when I was in my early 20s.

You may think that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one drawing such parallels. It can be scary to look at how many people died, how many were sentenced to life in prison or otherwise had their lives destroyed in the fight back then. It can also be equally reassuring to see how close to the breaking point the USA was in the late ’60s and how quickly it recovered, all things considered.

Voting will end in a few days. Two very different visions of the future of the USA are riding on the ballots.

It is common to criticize Facebook these days, as it displays so much negativity and hatred. I use it for two things:
• Staying in contact with friends and acquaintances, mainly those in the USA whom I cannot see frequently,
• Being active in groups dedicated to immigration and helping foreigners in France.

I recently had the following exchange in a group dealing with Americans in France.

“Hi Jean. I believe you’re French, right? What do you think about how generous the French healthcare system is for foreigners?”

“I understand why you qualify the French healthcare system as generous as it covers foreigners and citizens alike. It also covers undocumented aliens (sans-papiers) for free. It follows one basic logic, if 99.99% of the population in France at any given time is covered by the public system, national policies will affect everybody which is critical especially during a pandemic.

“I like the sense of security that comes from not worrying about being covered as well as knowing that the people sitting around me in the metro, the bus, the train are also covered and therefore there is just about a zero risk that they can transmit a dangerous virus.

“This is why I find the COVID 19 pandemic so disturbing in so many ways, starting with the fact that this sense of security is gone. I can no longer trust the people next to me.

“SO it is not generous, it is a national security issue. This issue shows probably the most vividly how Europe and the USA view political issues so differently.”

I expected some strong opposition, but what I got was a few positive and supportive comments and a few likes. On a topic that I thought to be quite divisive, the exchanges were quite civil. So it can happen.

At the time I was writing this (before the latest lockdown), all major French cities had a 9 PM curfew and it seemed that after a few weeks it was being well observed. As usual, there have been countless debates about how effective it is, about whether the situation is so awful that such a measure is needed, about how bad the number of deaths and ICU admissions will be in the coming weeks and about whether French hospitals will be able to cope.

I do not know and I find all the conflicting positions very confusing. The new policy had an immediate and rather radical effect on my professional life. I am now home by 8:30, just to be on the safe side. Once I am home, I have a hard time resuming work, and I admit I have been quite slow in answering emails and following up on client requests. The change in my schedule is one of the main reasons.

I am not complaining, as I had thought I would gradually spend less time in the office this fall. The problem is that the decision was made almost overnight. I am trying to adapt as quickly as I can. With the lockdown in effect now, I plan on meeting with my clients remotely through the usual software.

The situation of the pandemic in France has worsened enough that this kind of decision was needed. The government has extended the state of emergency until February 16th, 2021, and 46 million people are now under curfew.

Here are the numbers that matter: As of October 29th there were more than 200 deaths and 47,000 new cases recorded per day. The unknown here is the true number of cases. The topic has been discussed a great deal in the USA; testing is being done on a wide scale and so many people are finding out they are infected, often with no symptoms. The concern is the uncertainty over the ratio of those infected who will get seriously sick. Because the scale differs considerably from that of the first wave, the French government is trying to plan for the worst.

A critical piece of information, the Paris prefecture as well as those in the rest of France are staying open. Having an appointment at the prefecture is a very valid reason to be out of your home. Make sure you fill out the attestation, which is the statement explaining the reason why you are out. The convocation alone is not enough.

My opinion on terrorism in France may be disputed, and I am ready for that. I believe that since the beginning of the 20th century, France has had to handle terrorist attacks perpetrated by foreign forces or by French people pushing various ideologies. I find it interesting that the extreme right has been far more prevalent and therefore much more dangerous for France than the extreme left, which only existed in its terrorist form for about 10 years at most:

Action directe (AD) was a French far-left terrorist group that committed a series of assassinations and violent attacks in France between 1979 and 1987. Members of Action Directe considered themselves libertarian communists who had formed an “urban guerrilla organization”. The French government banned the group. During its existence, AD’s members murdered 12 people and wounded a further 26.

In those days the French domestic intelligence service (equivalent to the FBI), then called Les Renseignements Généraux, carefully and slowly investigated all terrorist groups on both sides of the political spectrum, as the attacks were meticulously prepared and needed a lot of time to set up. The danger France faces today is different, and requires a very different operating mode. The danger comes mostly from individual fanatics who do not belong to a political party or terrorist organization, though they may be more or less loosely connected with radical terrorist groups located both within and outside France. They do not always appear on the intelligence services’ radar, and they act very quickly.

Thus, the current analysis is that because the former type of French terrorism no longer exists, French police should radically change their methods and move very fast, putting under surveillance not only identified terrorist groups but also people who regularly visit their websites. Owing to the nature of the current threat, this also means having a significant share of police officers who are native speakers of Arabic. That opens a completely different topic, but one that is just as complex as this one.

The office will close for three weeks over the Christmas holidays, starting on Friday December 18th in the evening and reopening on the morning of Monday January 4th. As always, I will be reachable by email for emergencies and important matters. The service I offer of receiving mail for clients will continue while the office is closed. Of course, Sarah or I will honor prefecture meetings already scheduled, as well as a couple of other engagements.

Best regards,


Dealing with a non-paying tenant means addressing two very different issues:

1. The tenant loses the right to stay there as the lease is then null and void, because one party stopped complying with its provisions.
2. French law defines a long, complicated process to ensure the right to remain in a primary residence. The two things are very different and are always tied together.

In your case it is probable that this young man does not have the primary residence protection.

The first issue could be considered self-explanatory, and for the most part it is. You had an agreement regarding the use of the space in return for the rent payment for three months. You agreed more or less to extend this relationship by one month. You followed the normal French guidelines on terminating a lease, with an official notice sent by postal mail, which was not disputed. He has no right to stay there.

One solution would be to change the lock on the main door of your apartment and leave his things on the landing in front of the door. You live in your home and you have the right to make this decision.

I strongly advise you not to allow him to enter your apartment, since once he is inside your home he might become violent. You are putting your belongings and yourself at risk. I believe that you could consider that changing the lock is a small cost to pay for real peace of mind. This man has no right to stay there and his things will not be there anymore. The only issue that could be discussed is whether to put the things in storage to keep them safe. It would be a nice gesture but I would expect some backlash, such as you being accused of having lost or kept some of his things. Putting them in front of your door poses much less risk since you relinquish control of his stuff. His belongings would be in a common area where you would have no control over who takes what.

The second issue is the one that complicates all eviction procedures, as it prolongs by months or even years the period until the non-paying tenant can be evicted. Proving that it is his primary residence would require him to produce an income declaration to the tax office that was done from your place. Given the dates, this is virtually impossible. Also, the length of time he spent in your home shows that it is not his primary residence. Thus, the sooner you do something, the better your chances are of this not happening.

The other issues you raise are irrelevant to this legal discussion. The fact that he could stay with his mother might motivate your actions and allow you to feel less guilty about evicting him, but it is rationalization that you are doing the right thing from a human point of view. I am not ignoring this dimension of the situation, as many people would include it when making this kind of decision. But the human side of a problem, conflict or crisis should not blur your vision to the point that you lose sight of the legal question, which is where the real issues lie.

Things can change rapidly in a city like Paris, possibly increasing the requirement for new regulations.



I’m writing to you for some advice about a request from my bank. … I have been away from France since November 2019, nearly a year, because of the pandemic. During this time, just before the pandemic, I obtained a long-stay visa. I also was successful in purchasing a pied à terre and have the notary papers with me. While anticipating my move to France in March 2020, I sent a couple of virements bancaires for my living expenses, when the dollar was relatively strong – I took advantage. The virements totaled about 9,000€.
A short time thereafter, I received an email from my bank asking me why I was transferring money to my account. I didn’t understand the sense of the question, asked a friend who lives in France about it since things like that don’t happen in the US (at least at my level of finances), and, finally, with the onset of the pandemic and the chaos in my work that ensued, I lost track of the email and did not answer it.
I have finally returned to France. I found in my mail here a letter from my bank asking for a rendezvous at the bank and various justifications – notably bulletins de salaire or avis d’imposition. I work for myself and do not earn a salary. My most recent avis d’imposition shows a negative revenue total. The bank has me on file as not being employed, which alerted the system which functions as anti-blanchiment.
I am not, of course, laundering money. However, since I have no income to show on my tax return, I’m concerned that the authorities could start to meddle in my affairs. A few years ago I escorted groups of tourists in France, and this is something I haven’t registered with the French government.
Can you advise me? The banker was somewhat vague about what would suffice for a justificatif de revenus. He is not insisting on a tax return. Do you think just a bank statement would suffice? Do you know what is at stake for me in this kind of scenario? Being in the dark about this worries me and I’m hoping to find some clarity


I see two very different issues, not just the one with the banker. I would like to address them separately. Even if your banker accepts your explanation and documentation, you will need to submit your French bank statements to the prefecture, so I would like to address the problems that might come from that.

The regulations state that an incoming wire of foreign origin of 10,000€ or more must be documented with the Banque de France. Thus bankers often ask for documentation of the origin. The fact that your wires totaled 9,000€, just under the limit, might look suspicious and would be a good reason to ask for an explanation. Even though this is below the 10,000€ limit, your French banker has a right to ask what the funds are for and where they came from. The critical thing for you to understand is that your bank manager is personally and criminally liable for money laundering, tax fraud and any other felony at his branch that he does not report. So a French banker would rather lose a good client than take this kind of risk if the situation does not look clear and obvious.

At the meeting, your banker will want to see French and American documents showing how you earned this money and what it is being used for. He will be reassured to learn and see proof that this was income that was already taxed in the USA and therefore that having this money come into your French account means no liability for him. Hence your American 1040 forms for the past two or three years would be a good start. A year of your American bank statements, showing that you earn money as an independent, would also reassure him since it would match the #1040.

The fact that you escorted groups of tourists in France and got paid in the USA should not be the main focus of your banker. Your American banking information and your tax returns will show that this income was declared and taxed. The question of whether this was French money earned in France should not be his priority at all.

Now, some emails that do not say much but ask for information, sounding formal and detached, are a sign of serious danger and should never overlooked. Should you have a doubt whether the email you received is one of these, respond to it right away and ask your banking if you should be doing something.

Based on what you told me, if you do not convince your banker of your good faith despite providing proof of it and acknowledging your error in overlooking the initial email, the worst that will happen is that your account will be closed in 30 days. They are not pushing for specific documents but are rather letting you determine the best way to prove what your situation is. And what you should prove is:
1. You are self-employed in the USA.
2. Your clients pay you by crediting your American bank account.
3. This income is declared and taxed in the USA.
4. You needed a French non-resident account because you purchased a lodging in France.

In theory, since you just obtained your immigration status, you should have no problem with the prefecture about renewing it.

There is one thing that seems obvious about which I have learned to reassure people about at great length, as foreigners often do not see it as obvious. It concerns the fact that you will give the prefecture statements from your French bank account. There are two critical things the prefecture will check:

That all the money credited on the account comes from a foreign source, ideally from your personal account in the USA, so it is clear you are moving your own money.

That you spend the equivalent of the French minimum wage, about 15,000€, every year, which proves you spend most the year in France.

Make sure that, if you continue to escort groups of tourists in France, you are never paid in France. Preferably, in fact, these payments should not be deposited in the American account you want to show to the prefecture. Although the chances are slim that the prefecture would ask too many questions and find out that you have been working in France, it is not worth taking the risk. The ideal way to prove your financial means is to show statements on a savings account with hardly any transactions, along with a US Social Security statement showing the regular payments to which you are entitled.


Survival Home in Paris

Visit our partners



Newsletter Subscribers