Moving to France? Here's our complete expat guide to Living in France to help you
France is a vibrant and much loved European country.
Whether you’re considering a move to Paris, Bordeaux or down south into Nice our resident expats have researched high and low to find you the best information to help you and your family get settled in your new home.
Taking a post abroad in a new country is a tough decision but if you’ve decided to take the plunge read on for a list of expat clubs and schools to your local embassy plus general links for women living in France, country information and more...
Embassies in France
As an expat in a foreign country it can sometimes be hard to locate your nearest embassy, we've put together a list of the embassies in France for you.
International Schools in France
Searching for an international school in a new country can be a daunting task, we've made things a little easier with our list of schools in France.
Charities in France
There's no better way to get involved in the community than to volunteer with local charties in your area. You'll get to meet new friends too!
Expat Meet-ups and Coffee Clubs in France
Are you looking to meet likeminded expats in France? Our guide will help you locate expat meet ups and clubs in your area.
Editor's Note: Meet-ups may have changed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Kindly refer to your local authority's safety measures while in France, to protect yourself and others from the virus.
Features for Expats in France
10 Mistakes Newcomers Should Avoid in France
Moving to a new country as an expat throws enough challenges at us, often more than we can handle. So every little bit of advice or information truly does help with our move and settling in to our new communities. And so to help you begin your expat adventure in France, here's some mistakes to avoid doing while you're settling in from a fellow expat!
Paris From Your Kid's Perspective
If you are headed to the city of lights, right alongside some amazing wine tasting tours and enjoying the best patisseries, you need to schedule in some kids-friendly activities.
Whereas there is no doubt in mind that you will LOVE Paris, I have prepared a handy list to make your little (and not so little) ones fall in love with the city.
The Best Lyonnais Parks You Have to Visit
Lyon's parks have much to offer, historical sculptures, small shops, ice cream parlours, benches, free toilets and ample green space. The park is an ideal place when you want to relax, read, listen to music, have a lunch or organise a picnic with others. It’s an ideal place for family and friends gathering not to mention that it is a heaven for kids who love the space, zoo and playgrounds and many activities created just for them.
Public Holiday Dates in France
Get your diaries ready! Here we take a look at the holiday dates in France.
Including the international holidays and more local ones that are dependent on region. Don't miss out on what's coming up, and make sure you don't miss the all important holidays that occur annually in the country.
Free Resources to Learn French
Want to learn French? It really is quite a fun and popular language to learn. Plus, you'll find it so much easier to get by living in France if you can pick up the basics, the French are very modest and will appreciate every effort you make to speak their lingo.
In this article we've put together some key resources which offer French lessons for free so you really have no excuse!
Top Museums in Lyon
Get out and about in Lyon, there's so much to see and do! If browsing the local museums is your thing then you'll need to read our guide to the best and top museums in Lyon.
Living in France as an Expat Woman
Below you'll find even more information about living in France...
- Local News Sources
- Country Information
- Where to / How to donate blood
- Resident and Work visa information
- Accommodation Types
- Healthcare Information
1. Agence France-Presse
AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology.
2. International Herald Tribune
Founded in France in 1887, the International Herald Tribune has been, for 125 years, the newspaper of choice for the international community. It has now been rechristened the International New York Times.
3. The Languedoc Sun Magazine
The magazine attempts to build a bridge between English-speaking residents and the local French culture. Through a wide-variety of articles, our aim is to facilitate integration into this new way of life.
4. The Paris News
The Paris News has a rich heritage in Lamar County dating back to the 1800s. While not the oldest newspaper in the state, or even in the Northeast part of the state, The Paris News' history is well worth recalling. The first newspaper in Paris was established the same year that the city of Paris was founded, but the paper had a considerably shorter life than the city.
Capital city: Paris
Other important cities: Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Strasbourg, Toulouse
Currency: Euro €
Calling Code: +33
Internet TLD: .fr
Electricity: 230V 50Hz
- 17 – Police
- 18 Fire
- 15 – Medical /Ambulance. (call 112 from a mobile for all emergencies)
Locals and expatriates living in France are able to arrange a blood donation through the French National Blood Service, or by using the Don du Sang à Paris app.
Nationals of EU countries plus Andorra, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, the Slovak Republic, South Korea, Switzerland and the USA can stay in France for up to 3 months without a visa. A long-stay visa must be obtained to be allowed to remain in France for work or study.
Work and Resident Permits are necessary to live and work in France. These two permits are linked and have to be obtained from the Labor Department and the Préfecture (Police Department), respectively.
The non-working spouse also needs a Resident Permit, the granting of which is based on the Work Permit and financial support of the working spouse. EU nationals do not need a work permit, but they still must register with the Préfecture and obtain a resident card, which is usually valid for 5 to 10 years.
- The work permit application is submitted by the hiring company in France. Following approval by the French Labour Department, the applicant's file is transferred to the French Embassy or Consulate in the employee's country of residence. A long-stay visa is then issued by that embassy or consulate.
- Then, the expatriate has a mandatory medical check-up upon arrival in France.
- If the previous steps are completed successfully, the residency permit is granted by the Préfecture (Police Department).
As a general rule, any official application in France must be backed up by official proofs of resources and residence in this country, including certain documents.
All mandatory documents must be in French and have to be translated from their original language prior to starting any procedure. A list of official translators is available in each Mairie (city hall). In addition, originals and photocopies must be readily available.
Please contact the French Embassy in your country to ensure you have the correct paperwork to enter and live in the country.
Expats tend to rent their homes.
When looking for rental accommodation in France bear in mind that short term leases are unusual when renting in France - leases tend to last for 2 or 3 years. If you need to terminate the rental agreement early, 3 month notice is usually required, this is sometimes reduced to one month in exceptional circumstances or if the tenant has lost or changed employment.
Normally the amount of rent shouldn't be more than 30% of the tenants net salary - the landlord has the right to ask for proof of income and sometimes a guarantor is required.
In France it is the tenant’s legal responsibility to arrange fully comprehensive home insurance as any damage to the property during the agreement is the tenant’s responsibility. Proof in the way of an insurance certificate is required when the tenant signs the lease.
The tenant must also pay the Tax de Habitation (similar to UK council tax), water and power and any other utility costs.
Driving in France
In France, people drive on the right-hand side of the road. In order to drive in France as an expat, you need a valid driver's license and mandatory driver's insurance.
Certain countries and USA State driver's licenses are exchangeable for a French license. You need to check with the police department.
If you do have a license that can be exchanged, you have one year from the date you entered France: the date stamped on your passport or Carte de Séjour, to make the exchange.
For all others, you must obtain a French driving license 'from scratch', by going to a driving school and taking a written and driving test, a difficult and expensive process.
Toll roads do exist in France on the motorways (auto route).
All travellers coming into France should be up-to-date on tetanus-diphtheria, measles-mumps-rubella, polio and varicella immunizations. And, it is important to bring any medical certificates/records from your home country.
(Editor's Note: We would also recommend getting vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to your trip.)
Check any other specific vaccination requirements carefully with your local French consulate or embassy to confirm medical requirements.
What about insurance?
If you come to France as a détaché, or on assignment with a company, the French branch of your company will pay for private insurance for you and your family.
If your status is that of an expat, with a CDI or indefinite term contract in France, the hiring company will organize your registration within the French Social Security system. In either situation, you will be covered.
If you come to France on your own (i.e. independent of an employer) you will need private insurance.
A pharmacy, known in French as a pharmacie, displays a flashing green cross.