According to the World Tourism Organization, Paris receives the most foreign tourists in the world. For Americans, a visa is not required to tour the fair city of lights. However, not all countries are waived of the visa requirement. For citizens of nations that are required to hold a visa, a tourism visa known in the European Union as a Schengen visa, is required for stays less than 90 days. The application requirements for a Schengen visa are lengthy and require in-person application.
Determine if you are of a nationality that is required to hold a tourist (Schengen) visa to France. United States citizens do not need a visa to travel to France for a stay of less than 90 days. Visas to France are waived for the members of the following nations: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Nicarag, Venezuela and all member states of the European Union. Citizens of nations that are not waived must apply for a Schengen short stay (under 90 days) visa.
Find the appropriate French Consulate General. If you are required to apply for a Schengen visa, determine the closest Consulate General of France to your location by visiting the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. For a full list of the French consulates throughout the world, visit http://www.mfe.org/default.aspx?SID=12291.
Make an appointment. Once you have located your appropriate French consulate, schedule an interview via the specific consulate's website. All Schengen visa applications must be done in person as finger printing is required.
Complete all required forms by the time of the application appointment. For non-U.S. Citizens applying inside the U.S for a visa to France, the documents required include: proof of round trip air or train ticket, Passport valid for three months, photocopy of passport date and birth page, photocopy of the expiration date of the passport, photocopy of all the visas in the passport, proof of U.S visa or green card, completed Schengen application, one passport-size photo, three past bank statements plus photo copy, three last paystubs plus photocopy or spouse's documents and marriage certificate, confirmed hotel reservation or if staying with a private friend or host, a copy of the Attestation d'Acceuil which must be obtained in France at the City Hall by your host.
Receive your passport. Visas will either be grated or denied at the time of the appointment. Once your visa is accepted, you will be granted tourism entry into France for a stay up to 90 days. Bienvenue en France!
Apply for your visa application with the French Consulate General at least three weeks in advance.