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April  2024

Where the Sidewalk Ends is a 1974 children’s poetry collection written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. I discovered it during one of my summer trips to the USA. I immediately loved it. It has everything I like. I am particularly moved by the mix of silliness and sweetness. Later, as a father, I shared this book with my children and bought a few other books by the same author. But this is still the one I like best.

The title does a good job of describing how I feel listening to the news. I cannot explain why, or what specific thing guided my choice. In recent years, many people have seen similarities between what is happening now and the 1960s with civil rights struggles and demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Those years were extremely violent. Many more people were killed then than have been in the past eight years. But yes, we are witnessing a powerful and scary protest against the current president and his policies. The thing that I find new and frightening is where the protest is coming from. In the 1960s it came from the left, with radical ideas conveyed by the hippie movement. The most popular bands, artists, and leaders were all patriotic, united around core American beliefs mentioned in the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Constitution. This has always surprised me as a French citizen.

Today the protest movement comes largely from the far right. On the fringe of what used to be the party of law, order, and tradition are people refusing to accept the core beliefs that the USA has always stood for. That is what is new and scary. The fact that in poll after poll and study after study this group makes up a significant minority of the American population is also scary.

The Republic of France was formed in a different way. It has rarely been united since its birth which took placeduring the French Revolution. The first stage of creating a democracy that led to a republic occurred between October 1791 and June 1793. The party in power was the Girondins. They promoted local government by the provinces and slow change. Their position could be compared to that of Thomas Jefferson favoring the states. During the second period, which ended in July 1794, power was held by the Montagnards and later by the Jacobins. The main Jacobin leader was Robespierre. After the Jacobins sentenced the Girondins to death and executed them, Robespierre and his group were sentenced and executed in turn, which stopped the Reign of Terror phase of the revolution. In all, the French Revolution calmed down quickly. Law and order were reestablished. Napoléon Bonaparte, a general since 1793, became the ruler of France in 1799.

This description illustrates that the French Republic has always been split in two, starting with the Girondins versus the Jacobins. The debate in those days resembled that of the American founding fathers about the balance of power between the states and the central government. That evolved into conservatives versus liberals. In France, for 50 years or so, the liberal side was respresented by a coalition of the Socialist and Communist parties, which promoted a radically different vision than that of French conservatives.

Going back to the USA, the American Republic was created by uniting the visions of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. This unity is in the DNA of the USA.

With his trademark silliness, the comedian and actor Robin Williams personified this unity, mixed, when he portrayed the American flag in the sketch “I Love Liberty,” dressed as the entire flag. The sketch demonstrated that he truly loved the USA.

“Where the Sidewalk Ends” might refer to the definitive end, the chaos that The Doors depicted so well. It fascinates me that the band called “The Doors” had a major hit with the song “The End,” since they wanted to open doors. It could also refer to the poetic silliness that Silverstein’s book describes so well. I miss Robin Williams for that kind of silliness.

The Constitutional Act of March 8, 2024, contains a single article, amending Article 34 of the French Constitution, which now states: “The law determines the conditions under which a woman’s guaranteed freedom to to have recourse to a voluntary interruption of pregnancy is exercised.”

The aim is to prohibit any future questioning of this freedom. The French Constitutional Council has not conferred constitutional value on this freedom as such. Nor have the European Court of Human Rights or the Court of Justice of the European Union.

With this text, France becomes the first country to recognize in its constitution the freedom to have an abortion, which is a matter for individual women alone to decide. This freedom will be protected under the control of the Constitutional Court, which will take up the matter either directly after a law has been passed or at a later date by means of a question prioritaire de constitutionnalité.

The act was the 25th revision of the 1958 Constitution.

The draft law, presented in application of Article 89 of the Constitution, was announced by the Head of State, President Macron, in late October 2023. It followed a vote by Parliament in February 2023 on a constitutional bill.

The text was passed unamended by the National Assembly on January 30, 2024, by 493 votes to 30, then by Senate on February 28, 2024, by 267 votes to 50, with 22 abstentions. Over 170 amendments had been proposed in the National Assembly. Two amendments had been discussed in the Senate: the first aimed to delete the word “guaranteed” after the word “freedom” and the second proposed to enshrine a conscience clause for healthcare professionals in the Constitution.

On March 4, 2024, both houses of Parliament, meeting in Congress, overwhelmingly approved the bill by 780 votes to 72, with 50 abstentions.

On March 8, 2024, the law was enshrined in the Constitution at a public ceremony at the Ministry of Justice, in the presence of the President of the Republic.

Abortion had been legal in France for 49 years before this. The “Veil law” of January 17, 1975, temporarily decriminalized abortion and provided a framework for its legalization. In December 1979, the law on abortion made the provisions of the “Veil law” definitive. Since then, several texts have strengthened the right to abortion, including the 2013 Social Security Financing Act allowing women to have free abortions, a 2014 law that removed a reference to a “situation of distress,” and the law of March 20, 2017 extended the offence of hindering abortion created in 1993. The last law to be passed was the law of March 2, 2022, which extended the legal time allowed for recourse to abortion from 12 to 14 weeks.


Simone Veil (13 July 1927 – 30 June 2017) was a French magistrate, Holocaust survivor, and politician who served as Health Minister in several governments and was President of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1982, the first woman to hold that office. As health minister, she is best remembered for advancing women’s rights in France, in particular for the 1975 law that legalized abortion, today known as the Veil Act (French: Loi Veil). From 1998 to 2007, she was a member of the Constitutional Council, France’s highest legal authority.

A Holocaust survivor of both Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, she was a firm believer in European integration as a way of guaranteeing peace. She served as president of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah from 2000 to 2007, and then as its honorary president. Among many honors, she was made an honorary dame in 1998, elected to the Académie Française in 2008, and in 2012 received the grand cross of the Légion d’honneur, the highest class of the highest French order of merit.

Here is what I heard when I listened to the French members of Parliament who voted on this amendment to the French Constitution.

The idea had been circulated for quite a while without gaining any momentum. Members of Parliament did not see any danger that would justify changing the Constitution. But after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, more French members of Parliament started to think that even though there seemed no risk of French law being changed in the near future, passage of a simple law someday could make abortion illegal again. Some European Catholic countries, including Poland and Italy, were considering changes to their abortion laws, which made the possibility even more plausible. The USA is often seen as pointint the way toward what will happen in Europe a few years later. This has been true regarding technology, entertainment, political ideas, art, and much more. The fact that the draft law became public in October 2023 means the groundwork must have started about a year before. In other words, it was a consequence of the US Supreme Court decision. That decision has had serious consequences in the USA on many levels. We now know how much it affected the rest of the western world, especially European Union countries.

I recently received two confirmations from the prefecture indicating that regularization applications had been accepted and the people concerned each got an appointment to finalize their procedure. Although their situations are totally different, the time until the appointment is pretty much the same. There are some misconceptions about the regularization procedure. I would like to explain how critically different the procedure is now. Grounds for a request for regularization can take one of two forms, described in the Circulaire Manuel Valls of November 28, 2012. One concerns family status (vie privée et familiale) and the other involves employment (salarié). From what I see, there is no difference between the two regarding the timing or the procedure itself. It is just that the requirements are obviously different.

Before COVID

There was only one rule for getting an appointment: the applicant had to reach the reception desk before noon. In some prefectures, the number of appointments available were only relatively low, such as 20 or 30 new cases. This is one reason people who have been in France a long time, and started their immigration procedure when nothing was online, talk about long lines forming way before opening hours. Some people would sleep on the sidewalk by the door to be sure to be among those getting an appointment. The waiting conditions were atrocious, prompting a lot of complaining. But there was a human being, a civil servant, at each step of the procedure, making it possible to interact and explain. Sometimes I managed to get clients’ files accepted by showing that the documents submitted were comparable to the ones asked for. I used to think the interval between getting the appointment and going to the meeting was long – a couple of months, sometimes three. But the applicant walked out with, at the very least, an appointment, with a convocationas proof. It was not much, but it protected them from being deported. For those people, getting that appointment (i.e., holding the convocation) was a radical change in their life.


Today at the Paris prefecture (and I understand the procedure is similar elsewhere), the process starts with the applicant sending an email with attachments, which are the supporting documents the applicant is using to ask for a particular status. From the start, this ends up complicating the situation. Putting a file in a photocopy machine cannot be that difficult. Plus the file needs to be divided by years, topics and so on. Sending such an email means having to scan all the documents. For a file of about 120 pages (i.e., 10 times 12 months) and often a lot more, this means a lot of work to convert everything to PDF. The attachments also have to be compressed, as the email size limit is quite low. The applicant must have access to a computer and a scanner and know enough to have everything in the required size. Once the email is sent, the result is a document showing only that an email was received. It does not give any rights, protection, or sense of security. Over eight months later, the prefecture sends an email with the convocation. People agonize about having to wait for that long with no news. Calling the prefecture does not help. The files cannot even be visualized while the appointment is under review. The civil servant does not see them on the computer until the appointment is issued and the convocation has been sent. The emails I refer to above, received in early March, are for appointments in November 2024. By the time of the prefecture appointment, it has to review the file once more since it clearly needs to be updated.

The SHIP studio should be available on June 1, as the next tenant is scheduled to come in April and stay for two months. I finally have a dedicated website for this studio finalized and the link is below. It has actually been months since I started working on the site but I got busy helping clients. So I do hope the SHIP studio will be occupied during the Olympics – at the normal monthly rate of 1,400€.

I now own a parking space in the building just across the street from my office in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. The rent is 100€/month, all charges included. An initial deposit of 100€ is required.

The parking space is in the first basement of a residential building at 58 rue Montreuil. The space is 10 square meters (107.64 square feet). It is the space on the right in the photo accompanying the ad linked to below.

Secure access by beeper. The access gate is somewhat narrow, so suitable for smaller cars, although my Peugeot 2008 (4.16m x 1.74m) fits fine.

The office will be closed for seven weeks over the summer holidays, starting on Friday, July 5, in the evening and reopening on the morning of Monday, August 27. As always, I will be reachable by email for emergencies and important matters. This year, because of the Olympics occurring in Paris, I will be away from Paris for most of that time. But the service I offer of receiving mail for clients will continue while the office is closed. And Sarah or I will honor the prefecture meetings already scheduled, as well as a couple of other engagements.

Best regards,



I own and rent a small apartment in Paris in an old building. Recently thesyndic communicated that the entire sewerage system in the ground has to be repaired, the ceiling of several cellars reinforced, and the concrete of the courtyard entirely redone before a ravalement can start before the general meeting was called. They are talking about two years of non-stop work. I was thinking about the global description the architect made, which was sent to all of us. I have two questions after reading it. 1. Has the syndic stated when the first appel will be that reflects the initial amount quoted? 2. Will all owners pay the same amount in the appels or will the fee vary according to the size of the apartment?


I would like to backtrack just enough so you can see where my answers fit with your questions. The syndic, the property manager, sends two types of bills. Everything related to payments owed by the co-owners is voted on during the general meeting (assemblée générale), where decisions are made and motions are voted on. The two types of payments are quarterly payments linked to the general budget, and payments for projects that are singled out and clearly defined in a special motion.
Copropriété is the word commonly used for the syndicat des copropriétaires. It is made up of the entire common area and all of the privately owned apartments, cellars, parking spaces, and so on. The privately owned spaces are assigned tantièmes de copropriété, almost all of which are calculated on the size of the space. Everything that happens at the general meeting and all outcomes of the meeting are linked to thesetantièmes. They determine the weight of your vote as well as the ratio of your payment to the global amount voted on.
There is one small exception to this rule: a commercially zoned space can account for a larger ratio than a residential one. For example, the owner of a ground-floor restaurant may pay an amount that is somewhat disproportionate to its size.
Now, let’s review the two types of financial payment notices issued by the syndic:

1 – The appels de charges are for the regular quarterly payments linked to the general budget. They are based on the estimated budget for normal building maintenance, calculated from previous years. These payments are owed on the first day of relevant quarter (i.e., the bill is sent in December for the first quarter, in March for the second, and so on). The budget has been voted on, so neither the amount nor the date can be changed. Only at the next general meeting can co-owners (copropriétaires) vote on the amount actually spent, with individuals either getting an extra bill or a refund. At that meeting they will vote on two motions:
• Approving last year’s budget, which closed on December 31, 2023. This is the actual amount spent by thesyndic.
• Reviewing and approving the 2025 budget, knowing that the 2024 one has already been approved.
2 – The appels de fonds are for payments of defined, singled-out projects. This usually means serious work needs to be done, which does not fit in the normal general maintenance budget and thus is singled out. Bids are reviewed and there is a vote on each motion concerning the project. This is what you are talking about when you see the large amounts for the initial part of the repairs. At the general meeting, a motion details what work needs to be done and there is a vote on whether to do it or not. Another vote is taken to choose the contractor among the candidates selected. Then, depending on the amount of the estimate, there is a vote on the budget actually assigned to the project, which sometimes can be up to 5% more than the estimate. There is also a vote on how much the syndic is paid for this extra mission (it is always a ratio, mentioned in their contract), which is approved with the vote on that motion. This gives a global amount for the job. Then there is a vote on how to split this global amount and the dates on which payments will be made. Depending on the size of the project and the length of time it will take, there is a call for one to three payments. The first is made before the work starts so the contractor gets the funds to buy needed materials. The second is due halfway through the work, and the last one when the work is completed. These appels de fonds must conform to the votes taken at the general meeting and the syndic must strictly comply with the terms and conditions of those votes.
What you are describing is the syndic communicating to the co-owners what will be mentioned on the agenda of the next general meeting. One obvious reason is that, given the massive renovation and its long duration, the syndic is hoping this communication will help the co-owners understand the situation, making it easier to vote on the renovations based on their urgency (although the three you describe would appear to be equally urgent).
The dates of the payments will be known once the general meeting is held. I strongly advise you to write them in your calendar so that you remember to ensure that you have the means to pay them. Do not be surprised by the amount asked for; it is possible that two of these renovations will be done at the same time and some will be much larger than others.
To conclude, my guess is that the motion about the ravalement (cleaning the building façade) will be voted down and pushed to the following general meeting. This means your syndic will have to write to city hall, explaining that this negative vote was motivated by the urgency of the other work needed.



I hold a long-stay tourist visa so I am not allowed to work and I would like to. My visa is valid from August 2023 to August 2024. I have recently learned from other students that it may be possible to work part-time on a one-year student visa with only three months of enrolled study required. So I plan on registering for a minimum of three months of classes per year to qualify for a student visa and I choose to go to the Alliance Française to be able to work part-time in France as well as in the EU.I don’t think I qualify for a profession liberale or a talent visa because I don’t yet have work to prove income in France as an actor. My acting career has exclusively been in the US and has earned me less than 30K per year in the last few years. I would love to apply for part-time jobs and audition for TV shows shooting in Paris this year.


There is so much to address here that I can only give you general information. This means focusing on two issues:
1 – What are the procedures and conditions to change immigration status? In your case, it would be fromvisiteur to étudiant, as you are studying in France and would like to have the right to work as an employee conferred by the student immigration status.
2 – What are the requirements for visiteur and étudiant status?
Your current long-stay visiteur visa grants you visitor immigration status. You have the right to live in France 365 days per year, and you do not have the right to work in any capacity in France. Your goal is to work in France as a performing artist without asking for the related immigration status.
In theory, a change of immigration status is possible if the applicant complies with the requirements of both the current status and the new one. The French administration (in this case, the prefecture) has created guidelines. Some changes are a lot easier than others. The prefecture first checks if the legal requirements are met. Then it looks for the reason, the purpose, so one needs to explain the change. Some reasons are obvious: for example, going from student to work status when studies are over. A major change in one’s private life can also trigger a change in immigration status. A wedding, PACS, or birth of a child can allow one to obtain private life immigration status. And note that a separation or divorce forces a change of status. The prefecture expects the above changes, so when the request is well documented, no explanation is needed; the situation speaks for itself.
There are two major objections to your desire to change your immigration status to obtain the right to work as an employee.
a) – When you asked for a long-stay visiteur visa, you stated under oath that you would not seek any right to work in any capacity in France. You have not been in France for one complete year and you want to change. Thus you are committing perjury and you are not complying with the requirements of your current immigration status.
b) – The prefecture will look for an explanation. It could be that your studies demand some degree of right to work as an employee. For instance, some studies involve internships, or you could enroll in an apprenticeship program with half classes, half work. These would be excellent reasons to change your immigration status. Then the only extra explanation needed would be how these new studies fit with your existing ones; you have to have a coherent project that the prefecture can understand.
Studying for three months at the Alliance Française, which is a renowned school teaching French, does not qualify as such a need. Thus your reason to ask for student immigration status is flagrant: you want to work in France as an employee.
This brings us to the second issue: the requirements for obtaining and complying with the visiteur immigration status. As you yourself said, it prevents you from working in France. It is common knowledge that when one requests the VLS-TS visiteur visa and the carte de séjour with visiteur immigration status, one must declare under oath not to seek any type of work in France. The prefecture has clear legal grounds for denying your request to change, as you are de facto asking for the right to work. The prefecture waives this declaration under oath after two years of living in France. As you have spent less than one year in France, this prohibition will be enforced for sure.
Student status requires you to be a full-time student enrolled in a program and at a school that allows the issuance of this immigration status. The normal set-up is courses starting in September or October and ending in May or June. In such cases the prefecture grants a one-year carte de séjour that can be renewed, depending on the curriculum, for up to four years. The Alliance Française is a school that allows you to obtain student immigration status, but signing up for only three months, without even mentioning how many hours, disqualifies you from getting student status.
In short, your current plan is not going to work. But there may be another possibility.
In your message, you say, “My acting career has exclusively been in the US and has earned me less than 30K per year in the last few years. I would love to apply for part-time jobs and audition for the TV shows shooting in Paris this year.”
You assume this American professional experience is insufficient to get you French immigration status. I disagree. I believe you may have grounds for a successful change. This might be possible in one of two ways.
1 – At the end of two years as a visiteur, you can submit a standard project asking for either the right to work as an employee, which would pro3bably not be granted, or creating a French activity supported by your American one, which seems a lot more realistic. This would be a self-employed business doing consulting, coaching, and teaching. Your American acting career would enable you to teach and coach French people to do public speaking in English, among many other possibilities.
2 – The other option could be done now: you would prepare a request for a passeport talent sub-category, either as an artist or for creating a business. All passeport talent sub-categories entail a high standard, but this VIP status allows one to submit a project before the two years are up. Here are the ten sub-categories:

• Young qualified graduates or employees of a young innovative company/jeunes diplômés qualifiés salariés ou salariés d’une jeune entreprise innovante
• Highly qualified workers (EU Blue Card)/travailleurs hautement qualifiés (carte bleue européenne)
• Employees on assignment/salariés en mission
• Researchers/chercheurs
• Company creators/créateurs d’entreprise
• Holders of an innovative economic project/porteurs d’un projet économique innovant
• Economic investors/investisseurs économiques
• Corporate officers/mandataires sociaux
• Performing artists/artistes interprètes
• Foreigners with a national or international reputation (scientific, literary, artistic, intellectual, educational or sporting)/étrangers ayant une renommée nationale ou internationale (domaine scientifique, littéraire, artistique, intellectuel, éducatif ou sportif)

You should completely rethink your plans. Keep in mind something that is critical, and often counterintuitive for foreigners living in France. Let’s say you were in the USA, an aspiring artist with a so-so career. You see this as being worth next to nothing, not a good basis for a successful career. But you would be wrong. In France, you are an American artist offering American expertise and experience, plus a native English speaker. All this makes you valuable in France in the niches that need this profile. Start by totally redefining your career because you live in France. You may never have thought that simply speaking English is valuable professional expertise you can earn money with. There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in your view of life as lived in France. You must choose the right to work that allows you to launch your new career in France and not resume the old American one.



I am in the process of applying for French citizenship after having lived in France for over five years. I recently graduated from the American University of Paris and I am living in Paris. One of the items being requested is a Bordereau de situation fiscale datant de moins de 3 mois portant sur les 3 dernières années. Do you know where I can get this document? I have been living and paying taxes in France for the past six years but I never heard of this document before..


In answering your question, I need to explain three principles of naturalization:
1 – You need a perfect record when asking for French nationality
The applicant must be grounded and integrated in all aspects of their life in France, and be able to prove it, to have a chance of obtaining French nationality. To put it in a somewhat joking way: In the USA you pledge allegiance to the country and the flag; in France, you are asked to prove your allegiance to the country. The demand for proof of perfect integration starts with full compliance with French fiscal and social laws. In this respect, one could see it as a test of loyalty to France.
2 – Consequently, you must be up to date with taxes
The file asks for the last three avis d’imposition sur le revenue, which is the income tax bill issued after you declare your taxable income. The declaration part of the fiscal obligation is checked this way. You must also prove you are up to date on the payment of all the taxes owed for the same three years. The document that proves this is the Bordereau de situation fiscale. It lists chronologically all the taxes that were owed and the payments received, both national and local taxes. For you to be in good standing, the end balance in this document must be zero. As a taxpayer, you should have an account on the tax office website. There will be a selection of various statements on the website; choose the bordereau and click on the icon to get a PDF copy.
3 – The naturalization procedure triggers a complete police background check
A lesser-known aspect of naturalization is that the French police do an intensive and extremely detailed investigation of the applicant’s life in France. One of the documents required is proof of no criminal record in all the countries the applicant has lived in for the past ten years. (If the applicant has lived in France for more than ten years, this is not required.) It is the equivalent of having the FBI check you out. Do not lie or omit information in this file; the applicant must be totally transparent on the topics reviewed. The chance of success is a lot better if the file has complete information, including any incidents you may not be proud of. In such a situation, writing a cover letter detailing your life and explaining the incident is much better than having the police find out and give it the worst interpretation possible.

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