We have spent 10 years planning our retirement with a view to spending no more than six months at our cottage spread over a number of visits during a 12-month period. We are now limited by the 90/180 day rule which impacts on the number of days together with when we can spend those days during the year.
However I see that there are long-stay visas available.
Is it possible to leave and return to France during the validity period or does the visa become invalid once you have left France and returned home?
It is correct that from January 1, 2021 second home owners will usually be limited to staying no more than 90 days out of every 180-day period.
In theory this does allow for up to six months stay in France over a year, however the periods must be spaced out carefully, for example you could stay January to March, and then again in July to September.
If you want more flexibility to come and go then, as you say, a long-stay visa could be worth looking into.
You would apply for these via the France Visas website. There is a fee of around €99/£90.
Long-stay visas come in two main kinds:
- Temporary ones are not renewable and are for a fixed period of four to six months
- Visa de long-séjour valant titre de séjour (VLS-TS) is for a year, and is renewable by applying for a carte de séjour at the prefecture. You also have to ‘validate’ it with an online process, and extra fee, once you are in France.
A visa consists of a sticker in the passport, so border officials can see that for a set period you have a right to reside in France and are exempt from the usual 90/180-day rule.
A visa….. If you obtain a long-stay visa this does not mean you must stay in France for the full duration of the visa continuously, it is just an authorisation for a set period to spend time living in France.