French Long Stay Visa Part 2

In my previous post on French Long Stay visa (AKA OFII), I outlined the process I went through to apply for the French Long Stay visa. Once you get the stamp in your passport, there is still more to go.

Frech Visa OFII stamp

After landing in France, you have to let the state know you are there. You have three months to get the final OFII stamp for your long stay visa . You send them the form you get back from the consulate along with photocopies of your stamp, passport and entry stamp. As I was planning on travelling, I had to use the hostel I was staying at for a return address for the letter.  No email here. Physical mail.

Note: Make sure you pick a good hostel. I was in a crummy part of town, so it was a drag staying there for three weeks.

I sent my in and I got a response a day or two later.  I didn’t pick it up for a few days, however, as it usually takes a few days to process. When I did pick it up, it had a problem. I was missing some information. If memory serves, I was missing a photocopy of the EU entry stamp in my passport. I sorted this out and sent it in.  All told, I lost about a week because of this.

Finally, my form came, with a date in May. This was only 3 weeks from when I got the letter but it was a little too close to the three month deadline for my liking. Enough time for me leave Paris and visit some friends in Toulouse!

Appointment Day

When the day of the appointment came, you go and you wait. They give you an eye exam, weigh you and do a chest exam.

They then sit you down with a doctor. The doctor you sit down with speaks English and French. I suspect other languages too. The woman giving me the eye exam didn’t speak English, but it was no problem. We spoke in broken French and gestures. It worked out okay.

The conversation with the doctor, is a conversation. I felt she had some concerns and was on the fence for passing me. Seeing the chest X-ray on the computer behind her, I think it was to do with a chest infection I had.  I mentioned that and she passed me.

Once the doctor part was done, I was home free! Except I was missing one piece of paper.

I had my tax stamp (another $250 Euros!). I had my passport. But, I was missing a piece of paper with my current address on it.They wouldn’t pass me unless I had a piece of paper with where I was staying. I protested saying I was at a hostel.  I couldn’t get a gas or electricity bill with my name on it. She said she needed a piece of paper with my address on it.  She was cool enough to let me get back there the next morning with it.

I showed up the next day with a letterhead from the hostel with a date stamp. I was sceptical that this was fine. No problem! They stamped my sticker and I was good for the rest of the year!

Final thoughts

If I were to do this travel again, I wouldn’t go the French Long Stay visa route.  By the rules of Schengen, I can run around Europe for three months every six months with my Canadian passport.  The visa allows me to stay in France for the other three months.  Once you are in Europe, it’s not clear how they keep track of where you are. If you take buses or trains your passport isn’t scanned.  I personally don’t want to be stamped with “Illegal Immigrant” when I leave, so I’ve been a good boy keeping track of my time and not going over.

With that in mind, if I were to do this again, I would probably spend 90 days in Europe and the next 90 days in non-Schengen countries like  Croatia, Cyprus, Serbia and Bosnia &Herzegovina, for example.  The cost of living there is MUCH cheaper and just as beautiful.

Of course, from the outset, I wanted to work on my French and explore France to see if it was a place I’d like to live after retiring.  I’m not disappointed I spent that much time in France, by any means. It’s just now that I’ve done this, I’d do it different next time.

Festival Of Speed

For about a year, I had been excitedly waiting for the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed. I bought the tickets about 10 months before the date of the Festival.

After selling off my possessions, this was the only thing I was nervous about travelling with. Everything else, I can live without or replace.

When the day came, I was happier than a butcher’s dog.

Flying into London was a bit of an event. At the border, the guards were leaning to not letting me in. I think they didn’t realize I had a visa from the French government and were concerned I had overstayed a Schengen visa. Once the senior guard noticed this, I was stamped through.

My night in London was larger than I expected. I met a friend (and then another) and ended up on the tiles until after 1 AM. Getting up, getting my rental car, navigating London traffic on the opposite side of the road was quite an adventure. Adding on top of this, the crummy in car USB wasn’t producing enough power to charge my phone and run Google Maps at the same time.  It was a touch stressful.

I prevailed.

Goodwood and the Festival of Speed was a blast.  Camping was cool. I picked up a little tent on the way down, so I was sorted.

The event itself was amazing. The weather behaved and it was sunny most of the time.  I also got to take in some of the dream cars from my youth. Here are some of the highlights of the event.

There were Ferraris.

There were Pagani Zondas.

A sweet Koenigsegg CC8S…

My dream car, a 1993 McLaren F1 (This one is a prototype XPS I believe?)

A Jaguar XJ220

I also saw The Hoonigan Ford Escort

As well as this cute couple in the “exotics parking” area.

While walking around and snapping these pictures of the cars was a trip, the coolest part of the event was the hill climb.  So many classic cars charging the hill, along with drift cars, current winning cars and so many more.

I would do this trip again, in a heart beat.  Maybe, I’ll skip navigating London traffic with a hangover. Or, maybe, all together.