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I am an American citizen (Married to a French citizen) and have been in France since December - so around 7 months. I entered with a standard 90-day visa with the intention of moving permanently and acquiring a residence permit/visa privée et famille as my wife has a family home here. After lots of waiting/appointments/post offices/photocopies/and a fun home interview from an immigration officer, my paperwork is finally all submitted and being processed at the préfecture.

Now the préfecture said it should take a few weeks before we need to come to pick up my card. My question is: do you think it’s safe to travel to other countries inside the Schengen zone while waiting until we receive a call to head back for our appointment?

A flight to Barcelona or Rome for instance? I recognize since my original 90-day visa is up, I run the risk of a lengthy border conversation, but do you think showing our marriage certificate (certified in France)/livret de famille and explaining the process we’re in is enough to keep me out of any hassle?

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    (+1) Importantly, the rules described in expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/11371/… do not readily apply to your return to France. Since your spouse is French (and not from another EU country), your stay is not governed by EU law (which is also why you had to apply for a *carte de séjour “vie privée et familiale”). Entering Italy or Spain is absolutely fine in any case.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 12, 2021 at 17:31

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do you think it’s safe to travel to other countries inside the Schengen zone while waiting until we receive a call to head back for our appointment?

By "safe," I presume that you mean "without violating immigration restrictions" rather than, say, because of public health concerns.

I recognize since my original 90-day visa is up I run the risk of a lengthy border conversation, but do you think showing our marriage certificate (certified in France)/livret de famille and explaining the process we’re in is enough to keep me out of any hassle?

It's absolutely enough to keep you out of the trouble that you seem to fear, since you have a right to join your wife in any EU or Schengen country (other than France) for up to three months, with the only condition being that you have a valid passport. However, as noted in a comment, your departure from French territory could be seen as abandoning your application. The probability is small that this would happen, and if it does, you should be able to begin the process anew from the beginning.

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