Category Archives: Pre-Departure

Getting a Residence Permit (Carte de Séjour) in France

As part of my 2C visa (student internship visa), I needed to apply for something called the Carte de Séjour (CDS), or the “residence permit”. The CDS is needed if you’re staying in France longer than 6 months, as the 2C visa only lasts 3 months, after which the CDS covers the duration of the internship. What an adventure the last couple months have been! While there are resources online about getting a CDS, information for a Canadian student living in Paris and interning in France was scant.

2B and 2C Visa Warning

You can only start working on a 2C visa and you cannot work while on a 2B student exchange visa. The 2B visa lasts for 6 months and cannot be cancelled, which means starting an internship immediately after the school semester ends (4-5 months) isn’t possible.

2C/Resident Permit Application Process

Step 1: 2C Visa – The 2C visa only lasts 3 months so a residence permit is needed cover the rest of the internship. You’re supposed to apply within 2 months of entering France for the residence permit.

Step 2: Residence Permit – Récépissé- Many people apply for a residence permit so you’re given a “récépissé”, which is a temporary residence permit that covers you until your actual residence permit application. The wait for the actual appointment is months.

Step 3: Residence Permit – Actual – After successfully applying for a residence permit it takes an additional 6 – 8 weeks to manufacture the permit.

French Administration

Fun. This meant:

  1. Visiting 4 different offices
  2. Being mistaken for as a full-time student in France, thus being sent to the different (and wrong) offices
  3. Being told I had to apply in person a month after being told I could – and did – apply by mail
  4. A lot of this
  5. Vague requirements with nothing put in writing

In the end, I visited the central Préfecture and submitted these documents:

Central Préfecture

Hôtel de Police
114/116 avenue du Maine
75014 PARIS

Tip: Go in the afternoon when it’s less busy

Documents submitted for the residence permit récépissé:

  1. Passport with 2C visa
  2. Lease contract in French (or a housing attestation in French + copy of ID card of person who’s accommodating you  + original electricity bill with the landlord’s name)
  3. Original birth certificate with full parent’s names/birth places + copy of the birth certificate translated into French. Contact the French consulate for a certified translator to translate these documents
  4. Internship contracts in English and French (also used for the 2C)
  5. 4 photos (35mm x 45mm)

Note: Requirements differ by city

Patrick

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Filed under Career, Pre-Departure, Visa

Travel Essentials: Packing like a Pro

One skill I’ve picked up by flying with RyanAir and traveling by TGV is packing carry-on luggage efficiently. For weekend getaways or week long excursions, there really is no need to use anything larger than a carry-on. Plus, not getting nickel and dimed by Ryanair €15 feels awesome.

Even on my transatlantic voyage, I realized I was wasting tons of space packing the “traditional” way. Using the method in the video, I ended up being so space efficient I nearly tipped the scales at the check-in counter since I had so much extra space.

For every business traveler, packing a suit jacket:

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Filed under Flights, Pre-Departure, Travel

Why I Chose ESCP Europe

Being 1 of the 4 students chosen to study at ESCP Europe this spring (1 of 2 this semester, 1 of 4 the entire year) has made me appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given even more.

Formerly ESCP-EAP, now ESCP Europe

When I chose where I wanted to go on exchange I considered things like the city, school reputation, coursework, night life, cultural experience, cost of living etc.

But for me, the choice was easy. In fact, ESCP Europe was the only school I applied to for exchange. I chose it for these 3 reasons: Professional Development, Academic Development and Personal Development.

Professional Development
When I applied for exchange (January 2010), ESCP Europe was ranked #3 in the world for its Masters in Management program by Financial Times. When I arrived (January 2011), it was ranked #1. It was important to me to be in an institution with high caliber, like-minded individuals. In addition, the amount of networking and on-campus recruiting events have been plentiful. ESCP Europe is unique because its a dedicated graduate business school, which means the school is 100% focused on business.

Academic Development
ESCP has boatloads of options. Courses like “Investment Banking and Financial Engineering” to “Positional Bargaining: Negotiation Workshop” were interesting courses I could only dream of taking back home. Not only this, but many of the professors have impressive industry backgrounds to. For example, the professor for “Strategy and Marketing the Luxury Industry” (albeit in French) was the former Chairman and CEO of Hermès Sellier.

What amazes me the most is the amount of classroom diversity. With ESCP’s 5 campuses in Paris, London, Madrid, Turin and Berlin, its easy for students to cycle between campus’. Its quite interesting to have a group project in “Buying your own Business” when three of your teammates have already worked in M&A, all in different countries. This kind of academic collaboration has been eye-opening for me and helped develop my global perspective.

Personal Development
Coming from Vancouver, I wanted to experience life in a metropolitan city. ESCP Europe is directly in the city of Paris. Paris is gorgeous. While I’m starting to feel settled in, I feel like I could spend years here and still have nooks to discover. The sheer volume and depth of arts and culture, history, monuments and museums is mighty impressive. Not to mention cities like Nice, Lille, Lyon, Grenoble all a short train ride away, its hard to complain.

Things like finding an apartment, living in a city where English isn’t the primary language and taking masters levels classes has moved me beyond my comfort zone. It definitely isn’t for everyone.

To me, ESCP Europe is the triple threat. I highly encourage anyone with the possibility to apply to ESCP Europe (Paris) to do so. Its been one of the best decisions I’ve made my entire life bar-none. Perhaps my only regret is not coming here sooner and staying for 2 semesters instead of 1. A semester here is definitely to short!

There’s no question that I’ll return to Paris sometime. Maybe for work, maybe for fun, but I’ll definitely be back.

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Filed under Career, Courses, Food, Lifestyle, Pre-Departure

Flat Finding Flashbacks in Paris

Finding a flat is always fun. Finding a flat in Paris? Even funner. It’s been a little over a month since me and James moved into our apartment and February was a complete whirlwind thereafter. January was both mentally and physically draining since we were running to multiple apartment viewings and attending the first few weeks of classes. Not to mention living out of our suitcases in a hotel. Since ESCP Europe is in Paris, there are no student dorms available, ala every other university not in Paris. While Residence Vivaldi, a huge housing complex with an agreement with ESCP, was an option, I thought I’d have a richer experience finding a place on my own. And it was awesome.

Searching for an Apartment

Important things to figure out:

  1. Monthly budget – Paris is not cheap!
  2. Where you want to stay – Not all places in Paris are good, or close to school.
  3. When you want to move in – We arrived on the 13th of January.

Me and James had an initial budget of 600E/month and preferred something in the 3rd or 4th. We eventually increased our budget to 750E/month and expanded our search into the 3/4/5/6/8/9/10/11 arrondissements. I’d recommend avoiding the 18 – 20th if possible, which are not great areas. Depending on when you want to move in (immediately? Beginning of the month?) also factors into what’s possible. We also set a deadline for the end of the month to move in (anywhere).

Best Places to find an Apartment:

  1. ESCP Intranet – Definitely one of the best/safest options. Many flats available near the school
  2. Fusac – Lots of quality postings we followed up with
  3. Craigslist – Tons of Nigerian scammers! We eventually found the apartment we moved into here
  4. American Church in Paris – Didn’t follow up with any options here but some friends found their places through here
  5. Pap.fr or Seloger – Hugely popular with the French locals so you’re at a big disadvantage. Many agencies/landlords are looking to rent for upwards of 6 months

Predeparture Options:

Residence Vivaldi – I haven’t heard the best things about the facilities and rooms here. Although, they might be the best bet if you can score something for 400E/month.
CIUP – A bit far from the school, but basically dorm style rooms that you with people from Canada. It fills up fast!

Untested Options:

Various vacation rental sites/Parisattitude etc. – Definitely on the pricier side and sometimes it didn’t make sense for 4+ months.

I recommend setting up a spreadsheet to track everything. Sometimes we didn’t know which apartment an email was responding to since we contacted so many listings. If you’re willing to pay agency fees, you can definitely get an apartment faster. Since we were  adventurous, we decided to make it our goal to avoid paying agency fees (up to a months rent!). Finding accommodations for 2 people (not a couple) is exponentially more difficult than finding accommodations for a couple or a single person. Very few places have two separate beds or a sofa bed. We even considered buying a futon/sofabed for some apartments.

Setting up Viewings

Always call if you can; apparently landlords receive 30 – 50 emails after posting online. It definitely helps to speak French or have someone make calls in French on your behalf. I was also sending emails in French and English to make things easier for the landlord.

Apartment Viewings

This was one thing I didn’t account for sucking up so much time. Not only was I exploring the area the apartment was in, but I was at at the whim of the landlords schedule – be prepared for numerous last minute cancellations or reschedulings. Some of the neighbourhoods I walked around were not high on livability – ie lack of Boulangeries/Boucheries/Supermarkets. Some neighbourhoods weren’t for me. A place near Trocadero – and the Eiffel tower – was to touristy and expensive (daily) to live for 4+ months; although a week there probably would’ve been nice.

Signs you’re in a good area:

  1. Canada Goose down jackets. Wildly popular.
  2. Hip parents and stylish kids. Kids are fashion accessories. No joke.
  3. Cobblestone streets. Luxurious.
  4. Dressed up little dogs.  To have another mouth to feed & the space for a pet in Paris? $$
  5. McDonalds that serve hamburger shaped macaroons. Only the finest McD’s stock these.

Making an Offer

You’d be crazy to try to negotiate on price. As a student looking for a short term rental with minimal paperwork, we were in a weak position to negotiate. All we could was say was that we were interested and that they would get back to us. At times it felt like if they “liked” me then I would be at an advantage, so be extra friendly when viewing! Sometimes we were simply outgunned – other people wanted the apartment longer and we couldn’t compete.

Multiple Offers

Since landlords have their own schedules, sometimes they’ll accept your offer and want you to move through the paperwork immediately. This happened to us a couple of times and it was difficult to give a definite answer since we were holding out for another apartment. On the flipside, we were telling multiple landlords that we were interested in moving into their apartments. Always hedge your bets.

Signing the Paperwork

If you get a landlord that doesn’t need a French guarantor and the last 5 years of employment history you’re in luck! Try to get the housing contract read by a French person if you can. Ask if you can get CAF (housing assistance from the French government) or if you can use the contract to setup a bank account. Sometimes since you’ll be renting from a renter, so they’ll need to provide a letter attesting that they’re accommodating you from xxxx to xxxx to be able to setup a bank account.

Life Lessons Learned

  • Don’t wait for perfect. After a while we were indifferent to the likability of the apartment. It became “could we live here or not?”
  • Expand your horizons. We considered an unfurnished apartment and buying all the furniture since rent was ridiculously low
  • Hedge your bets. We were setting up viewings for apartments up until the day we moved in. Even after verbal confirmation.
  • Nothings a sure thing. We were 90% we were going to sign the papers for one apartment but at the 26th hour the landlord went with another offer
  • Expect randomness. Last minute cancellations, reschedulings and getting beat by other offers eventually became expected

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Filed under Housing, Lifestyle, Pre-Departure

The French Visa – Part 1

Campus France

The first step after getting accepted by SFU International is setting up a profile on Campusfrance (CF).

After filling out your personal details, I contacted the Vancouver CF coordinator to help me fill out the rest of the application. CF is like SFU International, where your exchange school has to “approve” your application. The Vancouver CF coordinator emailed me a confirmation letter I needed for the Visa when ESCP Europe accepted me on CF.

The Visa Application

The Campusfrance coordinator recommended that I apply for the 2B Visa.

Some notes about the 2B Visa:

  • The numbering on the translations page does not correspond with the application form. Get it checked!
  • The required 35x45mm photos are not the same size as Canadian passport photos
  • You need a letter from the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) (not an insurance provider, e.g. Sunlife) stating you have provincial medical coverage
  • SFU Health plan covers additional travel insurance (as of Dec 24, 2010)

After completing the application I booked an appointment with the French Consulate in Vancouver here. They issued the Visa the same day so my advice is to book an appointment early to have enough time to get missing items. I also did not have to pay for the visa, which I’m assuming was subsidized.

Part 2: In addition to this visa, once you’re in Paris and living here you need to go through another application for the “Carte de séjour” or the “Titres de séjour”, which is a residence permit. More on this later..

Update: If you get the 2B visa, you do not need to get a Carte de séjour.

Update 2 (August 2011): It looks like the Campusfrance registration is no longer required making it even easier to get a Visa!

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Filed under Administrative, Pre-Departure, Visa