13 March 2012

Spring, and some politcal news

Spring has arrived a week ahead of schedule. It was so warm yesterday that we put the table and chairs back out on the terrace. Walt spent part of the afternoon sitting out in the sun in the back yard, throwing the ball for Callie to chase and retrieve. Temperatures this week are supposed to approach 20ºC/68ºF.

Skies are clear and there's almost no wind. The sun is bright. What more can you ask for? I noticed a couple of days ago that the neighbors' plum tree actually has blossoms on it. I checked my tree, which I planted a couple of years ago, and it has blossoms too. I'm looking forward to those little plums, which usually ripen in June.

Blossoms on the little plum tree I planted a couple of years ago

Walt has continued cutting big limbs out of a couple of our apple trees. I think the trees will end up healthier for it, especially as it means there'll be less mistletoe in them sapping their energy. I'm waiting for some signs that the little fruit trees I have in pots might start budding out. Or maybe the extreme cold of a month ago killed them. I don't know yet.

A few days ago a weather front moved through from
the west, but we didn't get any rain.

This is the week when the presidential candidates in France must file with the authorities and show that they have the endorsement of at least 500 local elected officials in order to qualify. Bulletin: the extreme right candidate, Marine Le Pen, announced this morning that she actually has the 500 "signatures" she needed to get her name on the ballot. Several other candidates have now qualified, including a centrist and three far left hopefuls.

A red Peugeot parked by a red fire plug on our street

President Sarkozy is moving up in the polls. That was inevitable. He now stands a chance of getting more votes — 28.5% — in the first round of balloting on April 22. Socialist François Hollande comes in at 27%. In the hypothetical run-off between Hollande and Sarkozy on May 6, Hollande still holds a 54-46% lead. I wonder if French voters are ready for a change. The voters in other European countries — Greece, Spain, Italy — have been on a throw-the-bums-out kick recently.

The pond and our house

This election has made me realize that I really ought to apply for French citizenship so that I can vote. I'm in the process of getting my parents' birth certificates and a new copy of my own, because those documents are required for the citizenship application. There are other requirements too, including a report from the FBI showing that I don't have a criminal record in the U.S. I have to figure out how to get that, and find out what else I need.

The vineyard is getting ready to go green.

Immigration is a big campaign issue here, and it's feeling less comfortable just being a resident and not a citizen in France these days. I'd like to have that famous carte d'identité nationale, whether or not I ever actually get a French passport. Having dual citizenship would be a good thing.


  1. We had quite a lot of rain a few days ago and yesterday was very windy. It changed direction during the day, going from icy cold to warm, but annoyingly gusty. No blossom yet in our orchard.

    Re the immigration thing - you are white and relatively affluent. The immigrants who are a 'problem' are black and poor. My bet is that all the rhetoric doesn't apply to you because you are 'different'.

    I would definitely go for the French citizenship - dual citizenship has many more advantages than disadvantages.

  2. Our plums have yet to put out their first blossom - a whole two weeks later than last year! I think the snow had something to do with it.

    Susan's right about the immigration thing... but it's still a sad day that any country should turn on the 'incomers'

  3. Go for la nationalité!
    It's a pain to collect all the papers, but it is so worth it.

    I didn't get an FBI report, just signed an attestation stating that I had never been arrested or involved in any criminal activity in front of the Consul General at the American Consulate.

  4. Thanks for that information, Jennifer.

    Susan, I hung clothes out on the line yesterday for the first time, and they dried fast even though our clothesline is in the shade this time of year. On the immigration front, I know that being able to speak French, owning a house, and having a retirement pension will probably keep me out of trouble. But those same things will make it easier to get citizenship, I reckon.

    Ladyjustine, I hope the blossoms come soon. And I hope that the hard freeze didn't kill your tree.

  5. Your plum tree is ahead of mine!

  6. It was very quick & easy to get the FBI report - the toughest part was actually on the French end, ie trying to find a policeman willing to fingerprint me! Also, just an fyi - if you've been here longer than ten years, you don't need the FBI report, only the French one, so that makes it easier as well.

    And I believe you actually have to get a passport if you become a French citizen, otherwise you would have trouble coming back into France on the way back from the US since you would only have an American passport and no visa to show. Also, I think there's some kind of rule that if you are a dual-national, you have to use the passport of the country you are entering (so show your US passport when going to the US and your French passport when coming back to France). It's worth it though, the French/EU lines are usually a lot faster to get through at the airport anyways!

  7. It sounds exciting to get a French passport to go along with your US one :))

    It was ridiculously warm yesterday -- low 80s-- and that will continue this week. We grilled outside and ate dinner on our deck! Our star magnolias are in full bloom and we have a ton of daffodills in bloom around them in front. It sure seems early for all of this, but I won't complain :)


  8. Since the day I got my US citizenship, I’ve been traveling uniquely with a US passport. My French passport is more than forty years old. I don’t even really know were it is. But, just in case, I have a somewhat current French ID card. [Such an invasion of privacy! LOL]

    I don’t think you can travel with TWO passports. The one you really need is the one that shows your new citizenship and the country were you live.

    However, since there is NO federal ID card in the US and your driver’s license might be outdated, a current US passport might be needed if you want to stay more than three months in the US.

    I have been staying more than six months at a time in France with no problems at all. In spite of the dire predictions of an airline employee at the Dulles Airport in Washington.

  9. I read somewhere that people who hold an American passport should always show the American passport, not any other, when they enter the U.S. I don't know how that works in France. Seems to me I would be able to show my U.S. passport upon entering France as I do now. Now I have a French carte de résident, and that covers me when I'm in France. With a carte d'identité nationale it would be the same, I think.

  10. CHM, do you go through the "other passports" line when you enter France, or do you go through the French (or Euro) passports line?

  11. Sam, as an American you don't need a visa to come into France. And once you're in France your resident's or national ID carte eliminates any length-of-stay issue, doesn't it?

  12. All this sounds complicated to me, but would definitely be worth the hassle to vote in France!

    We're having elections in Alabama today. I live in a one party state now much to my chagrin.

  13. This morning's story about Sarkozy (I think it was) saying he'd have French expats file their taxes in France, wherever they are in the world, gave me a little pause. While I doubt it'll come to pass, if it did a dual US/French citizen would be under the obligation to do their primary filing in two jurisdictions - not so easy.

    We're dual US/UK citizens, and while I've wondered about getting French citizenship I'll probably procrastinate on that, as long as being a British citizen gives us residency rights here.

    I also wonder how the US authorities would react to one taking out French citizenship - in theory couldn't they revoke US citizenship in such a case? Of course they'd have to make the connection, but since all our retirement funds are in the US, I'd be a bit nervous of that.

    Having two passports to shuffle in airports does give one a James Bond frisson, though! And yes, use the one of the country you're going into. And NEVER show a foreign one going into the US, if you're a US citizen.

    Kirsty (using Anonymous because I can't figure out the commenting IDs!)

  14. Kirsty, everybody I think has a primary tax residence. Mine is France. I pay taxes in France first. Then, if my tax obligation in the U.S. is higher, I pay the extra there. There's no double taxation under the U.S.-France tax treaty. That's my understanding.

    I believe that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1980s that dual citizenship is perfectly legal. The U.S. can't take away your U.S. citizenship just because you also have French citizenship. How would you be able to have dual U.S.-U.K. citizenship otherwise?

  15. Ken,
    Since I always travel with a US passport and I don’t have a French one, I cannot go through the French/EU line. And since I am in a wheel chair, it’s a breeze!

  16. Glad to know that you are feeling warmer. I look forward to the spring photos. Good luck for the immigration maelstrom.

  17. Ken

    As Loulou said, no need for the FBI report.

    Here , when I did mine , I had to have the birth certificates of my parents, my marriage certificate , my birth certificate ( all of them translated into French), and, not in your case, since hubby is a french national, his parents and grand-parents birth certificates ( these took a long time to get) and the livret de famille of his parents.
    In addition, proof of my level of the French language even though I do live in Montréal but the Assistant Consul told me that there was no need for a test as i did part of my studies at a French Ecole and she was satisfied with my french conversation with her.

    We don't have French passports but we do carry the CNI ( as advised by the consul) just in case (and when hubby was younger - his military dispensation papers).

    In your case, I would keep my US passport to enter the US ( less hassle from some border employees) and once France delivers those new biometric cards in lieu of the CNI , I guess we will be able to use the French/EU lines at the airport ( convenient when one needs to rush and catch the TGV )

  18. Ken,

    With respect to dual citizenship, it always used to be a case of don't ask, don't tell. That may have evolved, of course - but I tend to follow pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés!

    I hadn't realized a US citizen had the option of making France their primary tax residence. You're right that in any case the treaty should avoid double taxation (once is bad enough!).

    Cheers, Kirsty

  19. Thanks, the Beaver, for that information.

    Kirsty, I agree with about you when it comes to vivant caché. If you live in France for more than 6 months out of the calendar year, France becomes your primary tax residence. You can't really choose. You also have to live in France for more than 6 months out of the calendar year to qualify for the national health insurance coverage.

  20. As a dual national I hold 2 passports: US and NL. Also have the optional Dutch identity card [like passports there seems to be a European standard as mine is very similar to the French one and useful to have as ID]

    When I travel to the US I travel with both passports. I leave Europe on my Dutch one and enter the US on my American one. Was advised this is the best action years ago by a US Embassy official. I do the reverse when leaving the US.
    In France and rest of Europe I'm an EU member state national and in the US I'm an American citizen which has advatages!

  21. Thanks, Antoinette. Remembering which passport to present to the authorities... a challenge.

  22. We always travel with both passports (UK and Australian) and present whichever one gets us through the easiest. I once entered Korea on my Australian passport and tried to exit on my UK passport - that caused some confusion until I produced the other passport with its entry stamp!

  23. Like Antoinette, I was told by the consulate that dual nationals should always enter the US on a US passport and France on a French passport. If you do become French, you will no longer have a carte de resident to show them upon entering France (you have to turn it in when you get your CNI). And you couldn't just show your CNI because that is only valid for inter-EU travel, not international travel.

    Conversely, what would you do if you showed then your American passport & they asked how long you were staying? You would have to say you lived here & then they would ask for your CDS & then you would have to explain you were French & you could get in trouble for trying to hide it.

    But I guess you will have to decide what to do - I just prefer to follow the consul's advice, better safe than sorry after all!

  24. Ken - oh so true. I used to travel a lot for work to places like Nigeria, Syria, Gabon, Russia and Bruneei so usually one of my passports was with some Embassy getting a visa - Nigeria was always the most challenging to get back on time. Sometimes I'd forget which passport had which visa! which meant rifling through both at the desk before presenting the correct one. It never really caused a problem.

  25. According to a friend who just got his US citizenship, the US does not recognize dual citizenship. As far as the US is concerned, you're an American citizen regardless of how many passports you hold. That's why you enter the US on a US passport. And it would make sense to enter France on a French passport, non?

  26. Susie, the U.S. government does not recommend dual citizenship, but (as they would say in French) tolerates it in most cases. People being naturalized in the U.S. are required to renounce their old citizenship, but most countries don't recognize the U.S.'s right to demand such a renunciation, so people end up with citizenship in two countries. The U.S. doesn't try to do anything about that. It also doesn't actively try to prevent U.S. citizens from becoming dual nationals in most situations.

    I don't know about needing to use a French passport to enter France when you also have a U.S. passport. I'll have to look into that.

  27. Ksam, do the passport control agents at Roissy ever ask incoming Americans how long they are going to say in France? I can't remember being asked that question over the past 10 years. But I guess they could start asking it again any time.


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