Let us suppose an EU citizen, who is not French, resides in France. According to the EU directive 2004/38/EC on the freedom of movement and residence rights of EU citizens and their family members, the spouse of said EU citizen can join them in France, and by doing so, the spouse immediately acquires the right to reside and work in France.
The spouse is required to apply for a residence permit (carte de séjour en tant que membre de famille d'un Européen) within 3 months of arrival in France. According to Article 10.1 of the EU directive 2004/38/EC, said carte de séjour attests to the residence rights and must be issued within six months of application. However, according to Article 25.1 of the same directive, the carte de séjour "may under no circumstances be made a precondition for the exercise of a right".
My reading of the EU directive is that the carte de séjour only serves as evidence of residence and work rights, but these rights exist before the carte is issued, and start immediately after the spouse enters France. In particular, they can be proved by documentation showing the family tie to the EU member, and the regularity of the residence in France of said EU member.
However, this interpretation seems to be in direct contradiction with the French immigration code (CESEDA). Indeed, Article L233-5 of said code states explicitly that in order to engage in professional activity, the family members of EU citizens must be equipped with the titre de séjour.
Is my interpretation of the laws correct? Am I right that they are in direct contradiction with each other? If yes, which law is stronger and should be followed?
Note that this distinction is very important in practice since the processing time of the carte de séjour application is usually very long (often longer than the 6 months required by the EU directive), and it is often essential to know whether the spouse can legally work in the meantime.