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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am getting ready to put in my application for a visa long séjour and I am looking for some feedback / advice concerning the letter stating the purpose of my visit. I will look to get a visitor visa as I will be retired and have no interest in doing any paid work.

I am wondering just how many things I should list and just how detailed I should get for each of the items. Also, I am wondering if it is helpful to add a version in French as well as in English. Finally, feedback or opinions on the items on my list would be greatly appreciated, as would be suggestions for things I should add that I haven't included.

Here is the list, the gory details are below for anyone who has the time and/or interest :
  • Spend more time with my French relatives.
  • Continue to improve my French language ability.
  • Share my English language skills with those French people interested in learning the language.
  • Participate in the cultural life of the city I live in by volunteering at places such as museums, théâtres, and the tourist office, and attending events at l'Alliance Française.
  • Volunteer at one of les Restos du Cœur.
  • Volunteer to help with the renovation and the events at le Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, the castle that I am a co-owner of.
  • Do a bike tour in Alsace along la Route des Vins.
  • Continue my explorations of all the different regions of France.
  • Eat all 246 varieties of cheese produced in France :)

And here are all the gory details for anyone who has the time/interest :

- Spend more time with my French relatives.
There have been American and French branches of my family for more than 130 years, and we have maintained contact between the countries over all that time. When I vacation in France I almost always spend at least a few days with my French relatives, and if I lived there I would take advantage of the opportunity to spend much more time with them.

- Continue to improve my French language ability
I started to seriously study French 8 years ago and would look forward to accelerating my learning of the language by being immersed in it on a daily basis. One of the things that has helped me a lot with being able to speak and understand spoken French has been attending social events at l'Alliance Française and Meetup gatherings where French is spoken. I would look forward to being able to continue to attend such events in France.

- Share my English language skills with those French people interested in learning the language
Since so many French people in the US have helped me in my learning of French it would be great to be able to return the favor by participating in Meetups for French & English language exchange in France. I would also like to work with my French cousin to help his graduate students with presentations they will give in English. I was inspired with the idea to do this when he gave me a tour of his laboratories the first time we met during my first visit to France in 2014. At that time he asked his graduate students to explain their research projects to me in English, and explained to me that it was important for scientists in France to be able to speak English because so many scientific conferences and journals are in English and also because it helps with collaborations between different groups in Europe.

- Volunteer to help with the renovation and the events at le Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, the castle that I am a co-owner of.
Le Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers is the first castle in France to be bought via crowd-funding with the intention of restoring it to its former glory. I am very happy that I was able to make two donations to help buy the castle and then buy the surrounding grounds so that it can be preserved and restored. Since the time it was bought the organization that was created to buy it has also organized volunteer weeks and weekends. Every time I receive an email detailing these events I dream of the day when I can be in France and join the other volunteers and help with the renovations and the events that take place there.

- Do a bike tour in Alsace along la Route des Vins.
One year my French aunt and uncle treated me to a tour of Alsace, the region that my French relatives come from. During our day trips to several of the amazing villages in the region I saw many bicyclists, and seeing them, as well as the beautiful scenery, inspired me to dream of doing a bike tour in Alsace one day.

- Continue to explore all the different regions of France.
Each year since 2014 I have made one or two trips of approximately two weeks long to France, and each time I have explored a different part of the country. One of the things that I really like about exploring France is that there are so many places with archeological sites, and while I have visited several, there are still a large number of sites that are on my places to visit list, places such as : Orange, le Pont Flavien, le Pont Julien, etc. Along the same lines I am always enchanted when I am wandering about in one of well preserved medieval villages such as Pérouges. I look forward to going back there one day and also exploring other villages such as Noyers for the first time.

- Eat all 246 varieties of cheese produced in France
I don't know if de Gaulle actually counted how many varieties of cheese are produced in France, but I always think of his quote when I am exploring a new part of the country and go to a market and try the local cheeses from the producers in the region. Listening to the radio show Rendez Vous Place du Marché on France Inter has allowed me to make a large list of towns and villages that I'd like to visit where I could explore their markets and try local cheeses and other products.
 

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Are they actually requesting a letter regarding your reasons for moving to France these days? That's something of a new development as far as I know.

My advice is to keep it simple. One main consideration is whether you are looking to move to France for the long term (i.e. the foreseeable future) or if this is planned as a "temporary" move for only a year or two, after which time you will return back home. (It will make a difference in how they evaluate your financial resources, particularly if you are relying on personal savings. Also the extent to which they believe your promise not to work while you're here if you are an "early retiree.")

There is no real need to include a French version of your letter. If you're applying from an English speaking country, both the visa agency and the consulate staff that ultimately approves the request are fine with English. (Besides, they know full well that you could have simply run your original letter through a translator program.)

The fact that you have family in France is good. But all the stuff about appreciating the richness of the French culture rings a little hollow. Not that you aren't sincere, but this is the same stuff everyone says when they don't really have any particular plans and just want to "experience France" when they don't exactly meet the requirements for any visa other than the "visiteur" one.

Sorry if I sound somewhat cynical - but we've had lots of folks through here trying to bluff their ways through the system for any number of reasons. If you're retiring to France, then say that. If you're on a sort of "sabbatical" for a couple of years, say that. But don't get into an argument with the consulate over how many different sorts of cheese there are in France - seriously, I've heard that old quote with numbers ranging from 260 to 500 or more. The truth is that no one actually knows the "correct" figure. <g>
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Are they actually requesting a letter regarding your reasons for moving to France these days? That's something of a new development as far as I know.

My advice is to keep it simple.
Thanks Bev, great advice, as always.

In a couple of web pages concerning the long stay visa the letter for the purpose of the stay was on the document list, so I think they are still asking for it, but we'll see if that's the case when I get to the end of the application on the VFS website.

Somehow I got it in my head that the purpose of the letter for me as a visitor was to convince them that I would fit in if I lived in France, that probably came from reading too many blogs where people described what was on their letters.

I completely forgot to use the advice from another thread on this forum, which said something like - Whenever you are trying to figure out how to deal with French bureaucracy put yourself in the shoes of the person on the other side of the counter and ask yourself what they are trying to accomplish.

As you point out, what they are trying to accomplish is to figure out exactly what visa I am applying for, so it is best that I clearly state my idea is that I spend my retirement in France.

And as discussed on many other threads concerning the VLS, when they know the visa is for someone who wants to retire in France they'll want to be very, very sure that their funds will be sufficient. I am very lucky in that my retirement accounts are sufficiently well stocked. Barring something like 1970's style stagflation I should have no problem maintaining a decent lifestyle throughout my retirement. I suspect that the visa folks will have no concerns along those lines.

Well, time to pull out the editing knife and pare the gory details down to something more simple and straightforward. Thanks again for the advice Bev.

PS - as to the cheeses, I wasn't going to actually put that on the letter, I was just trying to spark a bit of levity on the forum :)
 

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The only "letter" I have heard of with regard to the visitor visa is the one where you swear you will not work while in France (or not need to seek work). But things change all the time, so see what VFS wants and like the old saying goes "give them what they want."

I wonder how they know exactly how many kinds of cheese there are here in France. And do the various types of cheese include the variants - you know, the ones with bits of truffle added or such? Given how the regulations work here, they could pad the number of cheeses up to the thousands with a little effort. <g>
 

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The only "letter" I have heard of with regard to the visitor visa is the one where you swear you will not work while in France (or not need to seek work). But things change all the time, so see what VFS wants and like the old saying goes "give them what they want."

I wonder how they know exactly how many kinds of cheese there are here in France. And do the various types of cheese include the variants - you know, the ones with bits of truffle added or such? Given how the regulations work here, they could pad the number of cheeses up to the thousands with a little effort. <g>
I believe, though of course I could be mistaken, that the visa requires a letter of motivation (or something like that). TBH I amnot familier with visa requirements, but it seems to me that I have seen that requirement somewhere.
 
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