Depending on what country you live in, you may need a visa and/or special permit to enter France. It is best to enquire about all documents you will need well beforehand.
The three main documents that should be considered include residence, work permits and visas.
Residence permits must be obtained by those planning to stay in France for more than 3 months. These permits are only issued inside France. Citizens of most EU countries do not need such a permit, although it may come in handy.
Work permits are documents simply stating that you are permitted to work in France. Again, citizens of most EU countries do not need such a permit.
Visas are usually required to enter a country regardless of how long or short the stay is. There are 6 main types of visas and it is a good idea to check thoroughly which most applies to your kind of trip so you can enjoy your stay without worrying about travel documents.
Type of Visas:
Short-stay visa (visa de court sejour):
This visa is valid for a maximum of 3 months and allows you to move around freely in what is known as the Shengen Area. The Shengen Area includes all the signatory countries to the Shengen treaty signed in 1985. (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Portugal).
Short-stay student-examination visa (Etudiant-concours):
This is a visa required by students who must sit for an examination in France in order to be enrolled in a French academic institution. If the candidate is successful in the exam and enrolment is approved, a temporary stay permit (Carte de sejour temporaire) is required, describing the person's status as a student.
Long-stay visa (visa de long sejour):
Valid for a stay lasting 3-6 months. Upon your arrival in France you need to obtain a temporary stay permit that will describe your status in France: student (etudiant), employee (salarie), visitor (visiteur), among others.
Other visas available include Transit visas (visa de transit aeroportuaire), Circulation visas (Visa de circulation) and Temporary long-stay visas (Visa long sejour temporaire de six mois).
EU/EEA citizens, which include all those citizens belonging to the 25 European Union member states as well as Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway, do not need a visa to enter France. Among the non EU/EEA citizens, there are some nationalities which do not need a visa due to special agreements between France and those countries. These citizens can stay France for up to 3 months without a visa.
The countries include: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, United States, Uruguay, Vatican and Venezuela.
For those nationalities requiring a visa, it must be applied and obtained in your home country, at your local French embassy or consulate. All the documents except passport must be in French.