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A Comprehensive Guide to Living in Paris

Steeped in culture, fashion, and cuisine, Paris offers a lifestyle unlike any other. This guide unlocks the secrets of living in this captivating city, where every day is an opportunity to embrace the art of living (l'art de vivre).
Photo by Bruno Abatti on Unsplash

A Comprehensive Guide to Living in Paris

Introduction

    1. Understanding Paris

    2. Housing in Paris

    3. Navigating the City

    4. Working in Paris

    5. Education and Family Life

    6. Food and Dining

    7. Leisure and Entertainment

    8. Practical Tips and Advice

    9. Expat Experiences and Community

    Conclusion

    Additional Resources

    Introduction

    Paris as a global cultural, fashion, and culinary hub

    Paris lives up to its hype: A city with unbelievable food and culture, plus stunning views everywhere you turn. Known as ”The City of Light” Paris has been one of the most important centers for fashion trends and culinary delicacies for centuries and for a time was considered the center of the Western world. Why is that? Well, Paris culture was and still is a mixture of many nationalities, cultures, and customs called multiculturalism.

    The allure of Parisian lifestyle

    Parisian people live for the foundation of a healthy and balanced existence in which simple pleasures are magnified. Living life with enjoyment is always a priority, whether that’s through social gatherings, excellent food, beautiful surroundings, or luxury clothes. Their lifestyle is about taking time to do nothing, giving attention to details, and choosing quality over quantity as a means to enjoy life. The Art de Vivre basically encapsulates a way to embrace one’s everyday life by romanticizing every experience. 

    1. Understanding Paris

    Arrondissements and their significance

    Being a major metropolis, Paris contains a multitude of districts. Paris minus its suburbs is referred to as Paris intra-muros and is made up of 20 districts, or arrondissements. Choosing the right neighborhood to settle down in Paris can make or break your experience in a city, which is why prior research is an absolute must.

    Of course, you need to know a little more about arrondissements to choose which is best for you. Luckily, below you will find a description of the different arrondissements to find which suits your budget and lifestyle.

    Overview of each Arrondissement with key characteristics

    Arrondissement  Characteristics
    1st and 2nd The heart of Paris is primarily shops, offices, and tourist attractions with relatively few apartments. In the 1st arrondissement, you will find the Louvre and Tuileries gardens. Both areas is easily walkable, making this a good choice for anyone wanting to be close to the business district. From here, you are also very well connected by public transport to the rest of the city and even the suburbs. However, with few restaurants or grocery shops available in the evening, it’s not necessarily the most practical area to live in. Bars and other services largely cater to tourists and passing professionals. Not to mention that real estate prices here are some of the most expensive in the city.
    3rd and 4th Also in the very center of the city, but has a very different feel, a very local vibe. They are packed to the brim with a diverse community of Parisians, mingling in local cafés, bars, and clubs. If you can afford the house prices here, it’s a central, vibrant, and wonderfully authentic place to live and experience Paris at its best. Bear in mind, however, that owning a car is not a good idea since parking in central Paris is expensive and difficult to find. Most people walk, bike, or use the metro and buses to get around.
    5th and 6th Latin Quarter has a rich expat history and it’s a joyful mix of students, foreigners, and wealthy Parisians. Depending on which street you take, you might come across a row of arthouse cinemas, contemporary art galleries, fancy boutiques, or affordable Asian cuisine. It’s a vibrant, if rather pricy, neighborhood. Rents are on the higher end, and the 6th arrondissement, especially around Saint-Germain, boasts some of the most expensive real estate for purchase. In addition, if you live here, forget about driving.
    7th Eiffel Tower district is both a rather grand and rather residential district. For expats with children, this can be a convenient and quiet neighborhood to have as a base. All the basic necessities are there, including grocery stores and outdoor markets, and you won’t have to go far for an evening stroll along the Seine. On the other hand, it is not a particularly vibrant area for nightlife, and local bistros cater largely to tourists and business lunches. The 7th is also pricy.
    8th and 9th This large area of the right bank encompasses the Champs-Elysées, and the Parc Monceau and it is an area scattered with museums, grand squares, galleries, luxury stores, government offices, and auction houses. While the beautiful Parc Monceau is packed with local families on the weekends, most of the area caters to a professional population. This area draws tourists and those in search of all forms of nightlife, but definitely fewer families. Real estate is more affordable, but still very upper-class.
    10th Although Paris has nine train stations, the major hub is in the 10th arrondissement, around the Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est. The area bustles with petty thieves, beggars, and dodgy dealers. Just to the north, from Barbès-Rochechouart to Jaurès, encampments of drug addicts and homeless people regularly pop up in parks, squares, or beneath the overground metro line. Gentrifying, swarming, and polluted.
    11th One of the oldest and certainly one of the most densely populated districts. Many great cafes, bistros, bars, and restaurants. Close to transit, pastry shops, wine stores, and fresh food markets. It’s a mix of central 1st and 2nd districts and 18th-19th ones that aren’t that fancy. Not much to do since it is more of a residential area. A real neighborhood feel with locals.
    12th Running along the Seine’s right bank from the Canal Saint-Martin, and encompassing the huge and leafy Bois de Vincennes beyond the périphérique (the high-speed road that belts around Paris). It is ideal for families and anyone in search of outdoor activities away from asphalt. The Parc de Bercy also has a skate park and live sports arena, while the Coulée Verte, a raised park, is popular with runners and cyclists. New developments in this area mean a more diverse housing stock that includes modern and attractive social housing. Slightly more affordable real estate as it gathers middle-class residents.
    13th Largely represent a local, authentic Paris away from the tourist crowds. The 13th includes a student hub by the Seine, with a university campus and the national François-Mitterand library, a Chinese quarter near Olympiades, and the vibrant Butte-aux-Cailles district. Affordable real estate around Chinatown.
    14th In the 14th, you’ll find some of Paris’ most leafy neighborhoods around the Parc Montsouris, as well as the Montparnasse cemetery and train station, surrounded by shops, cinemas, and restaurants. Laid-back and bohemian atmosphere.
    15th The 15th is maybe the most quiet and residential of the three, dotted with small parks and cafés where locals gather. These areas of Paris have some of the lowest crime rates in the city. Most neighborhoods in 13th, 14th and 15th are very safe and popular with families, but increasingly pricy too.
    16th Bois de Boulogne is rather attractive to sports enthusiasts. It’s where you’ll find the Parc des Princes soccer stadium, the Roland Garros tennis grounds, the Jean-Bouin rugby fields, the Longchamp horse racetrack, and the Polo de Paris golf club. In addition, expats are drawn to the international community that gathers around bilingual institutions such as the Eurécole and the International School of Paris. Aside from that, known as being the home of the Paris bourgeoisie.
    17th The Arc de de Triomphe. Largely peaceful and prosperous residential neighborhoods with expensive amenities. Apartments vary from spacious family dwellings to tiny maid’s quarters populated by students. The housing stock is varied, with everything from new apartment blocks to 17th-century townhouses. Overall, home prices here are pretty average.
    18th Bordering on the 10th is the 18th with the same problems. The Barbès-Rochechouart area along the Boulevard de la Chapelle is notable for its high rate of violent thefts. Along the Boulevard de Clichy is the red light district, which families with children may want to avoid. North of that is Montmartre, packed with both tourists and scam artists of all kinds. If you then cross into the suburbs beyond the Porte de la Chapelle, you enter Saint-Denis, a sprawling working-class and immigrant area with an unfortunate reputation for high crime, violence, and religious extremism. Exlectic, picturecque and hectic.
    19th The 19th arrondissement is large and varied. Families are increasingly moving to affordable areas around the leafy Buttes-Chaumont and the modern urban park at La Villette. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the 19th arrondissement is an underprivileged area, with 24% of people living below the poverty line. As such, some neighborhoods harbor a bad reputation and are probably best avoided. These include the monstrous high-rises around Place des Fêtes, and the northeastern zone from Stalingrad to Canal de l’Ourcq.
    20th The 20th arrondissement is located in the very east of the city. It is the last and also one of the most affordable arrondissements in terms of real estate prices. The area has a more diverse architecture than in the city center, and especially more low-cost housing. As such, many young families have been moving here in recent years. Right in the middle is the Père Lachaise cemetery and it is the area’s biggest draw. Like the 19th it is a home to many immigrants. Largely suburban working-class areas.
    Arrondissements

    Brief history shaping the city’s layout and culture

    Nestled on the banks of the River Seine, Paris metropolis, the heart and soul of France, boasts a history that stretches back to the days of the Roman Empire. French capital city is a vibrant hub of finance, diplomacy, commerce, culture, fashion, and all things gastronomy that has been rocking the global stage since the 17th century. During the French Revolution, Paris was the center of the radical political changes that swept the country, and the city has been a focal point of political and cultural life in France ever since.

    The Paris we wander through today, with its harmonious downtown layout and stunning architecture, can be thanked largely to the vision of Napoleon III and his right-hand man, Baron Haussmann. Between 1853 and 1870, they gave the city center a makeover, introducing those iconic wide boulevards and squares, enforcing a uniform look along them, and insisting on using the signature cream-grey “Paris stone” for facades. They didn’t stop there; they also encircled the city center with splendid parks.

    What’s remarkable about Paris is its resilience; rarely has it faced destruction by catastrophe or war. This means even the oldest layers of its history are still visible in its streets today. Generations of rulers have left their architectural fingerprints all over the city, creating a richness of historic monuments and buildings that contribute to Paris’s famed beauty.

    As the bustling center of the Île-de-France region or Paris Region, it is home to an estimated 12,271,794 people as of January 1, 2023.

    Parisian attitudes, lifestyle, and social norms

    The “Paris café-terrasse lifestyle” or “chilling” refers to the tradition of Parisians spending time at cafes and outdoor terraces, enjoying good food, drinks, and conversation. This is a quintessential part of Parisian culture and a way of life that many Parisians hold dear.

    French society is quite individualistic, meaning that the interests of oneself and one’s immediate family take priority. Often, appropriate interaction depends on whether a person is within one’s social circle or not. Indeed, there are many nuanced social conventions in France. The French are formal and courteous with people outside of their social circle. Sometimes, the formal and reserved nature of the French people coupled with the directness of the French language may unintentionally come across as cold or arrogant to a foreigner. 

    It is highly important to follow social conventions and exhibit an appropriate level of formality in France. The French term ‘faux pas’ (‘wrong step’) refers to an embarrassing or unsophisticated act or remark in a social situation. An example of a faux pas would be to greet an acquaintance by their first name.

    A deep appreciation and respect for the arts is common throughout France. Many hobbies, professions, and daily activities revolve around artistry. Parisians are taught at a young age to appreciate artistry and be patient since quality work (such as art or cuisine) may take time to produce. Meals often take a considerable amount of time to prepare and, in turn, are eaten slowly as a way to acknowledge and enjoy the creation. For those residing in larger cities, visits to historical monuments, art galleries, and museums also continue to be popular activities. 

    2. Housing in Paris

    Types of housing available (apartments, studios, shared accommodations)

      • Pied-à-terre

    Otherwise known as an apartment, a pied-à-terre is one of the most common types of accommodation you’ll find in Paris. Generally, these are smaller studios (a single room with a kitchenette), one-bedroom (a bedroom and a living room, as well as a kitchen and bathroom), or two-bedroom apartments (a three-room apartment, usually indicating two bedrooms found in the inner city districts.

      • Coliving

    Finding a shared apartment in Paris is certainly one of the most budget-friendly options and a great way to meet people when you’re new to the city. Co-living is a popular option among students and young expats.

      • Aparthotel

    For the ultimate convenience, why not combine the convenience of a serviced apartment in Paris with the added benefits of hotel service? Designed to be a home away from home, your room will be much larger than in a traditional hotel, complete with a fully-fitted kitchen, laundry facilities, and living areas. Along with independent living, hotel-esque service is a bonus to living in an aparthotel.

    The average size of an apartment in Paris:

      • Studio: 20 to 35 m² (215 to 376 sq. ft.)

      • One-bedroom: 40 to 70 m² (430 to 753 sq. ft.)

      • Two bedrooms: 60 to 100 m² (645 to 1076 sq. ft.)

      • Three-bedroom: 80 to 120 m² (861 to 1291 sq. ft.)

    Tips for searching: websites, agencies, local notices

    Start by identifying the neighborhoods that are right for you. Be prepared to do a lot of paperwork – they love it here. Pro tip: Use an English-speaking specialized Real Estate Agency in Paris for your rental apartment research in Paris, which can adapt you to work the American way. These agencies cater specifically to international clients, assisting in English.

    So, you’ve chosen your ideal neighborhood and written down your dream apartment on paper, what’s next? Now, it’s time to start thinking about how to find an apartment in Paris that suits your exact needs. 

    Well, now comes the online search. To help get you off to a running start in your search, here are some of the most popular websites and agencies: Homelike, Paris Rental, PAP (short for Particulier à Particulier), Housing anywhere, Leboncoin, FUSAC (originally designed for American expats), Airbnb, Seloger, Jinka, and Wunderflats.

    For flat shares and co-living check out Appartager, Coliving in Paris, or Facebook groups (particularly beneficial for expats who don’t speak French).

    Average rent prices by Arrondissement

    Average prices of rent in Paris in 2024:

      • Studio: €800 to €1,500 per month

      • One Bedroom: €1,200 to €2,500 per month

      • Two Bedrooms: €1,800 to €4,000 per month

      • Three Bedrooms: €2,500 to €6,000 per month

     

    #Average cost per square

    Understanding French rental contracts

    No matter how you go about finding your accommodation in Paris, an absolute must is to have your dossier up to date and in working order. 

    A solid and well-organized rental file is essential to get the apartment rental of your choice. Here are the mandatory documents for creating a winning rental dossier to make a good impression on landlords.

    Proof of identity (if you are an individual/student):

      • ID card and passport and visa, if applicable, or residence permit.

    Proof of income:

      • Last three pay slips or last tax assessment.

    Proof of employment: 

      • Employment contracts or letters from employers.

        OR, if you are a student, provide proof of enrolment or a copy of your student card. And the internship agreement if you’re doing an internship in Paris.

    Rental history:

      • Letters of reference from previous landlords, if possible.

    Proof of current address:

      • The last three rent receipts or electricity bills/proof of home insurance.

    Guarantees:

      • A guarantor in France, OR a bank guarantee from a French bank, OR a company guarantee such as “Garantme”. Typically, the garant needs to be French or live in France.

    ETIAS Authorization needed if:

      • You are not a European Union national.

      • You are a citizen of any country, including the U.S., whose nationals currently do not require a visa for short-term stays in a European Union country.

      • You do not possess a residence permit or card issued by any of the European countries that require ETIAS.

    Bonne chance!

    Living like a Local

    Decor and furnish your Parisian home

    Design trends come and go, but ‘Parisian style’ is so classic and timeless, and you can always return to it because it never fails to delight. Parisian interior design is a home decorating style that blends traditional and modern. It is chic yet simple, sophisticated yet calming, old and new.

    Parisian style is elegant but never fussy, focusing on just a few items of higher quality versus overwhelming collections that create visual clutter. The color palette leans into light hues and neutrals, with small doses of color introduced with well-curated accessories. This combination creates a sunny, breezy, almost ethereal space that’s universally appealing and easy to live in.

      • Using natural materials such as wood, marble, and linen ensures that the overall design remains stylish.

      • Apartments in Paris are often painted white to highlight intricate moldings, and white contributes to the overall clean, minimal look. If you have low ceilings or small rooms, it can help trick the eye to make rooms look bigger than they really are. White walls are usually contrasted by warm grays, cool grays, or black on windows, doors, fireplaces, pieces of furniture, or other architecture.

      • It’s common in Parisian interior design to weave in jewel tones like sapphire, emerald, ruby, or amethyst as a subtle pop of color in curtains, a rug, throw pillows, a lamp, or a piece of upholstered furniture like an accent chair. Parisian apartments are usually filled with intricate moldings and architectural details, and the look of French-style antique gold gilded mirrors.

      • Parquet floors in herringbone or chevron patterns are the classic Parisian flooring choice. For a less pricey alternative, you can install herringbone luxury vinyl plank flooring instead. 

      • To pair with immaculate white walls, Parisians love highlighting art from antique landscapes to modern abstracts. Go large and singular to maintain the look of minimalism.

      • Parisian interiors often mix furniture from multiple time periods and opt for a few pieces of higher quality.

      • Parisian chic is all about being clean and clutter-free, so keep accessories to a minimum. Less is more. Blank spaces allow rooms to breathe.

    Navigating utilities and services

    Electricity in France is provided by several suppliers, with EDF (Électricité de France) being the main and historical provider. Since the market has been opened to competition, consumers can choose from a variety of suppliers, each offering different rates and plans.

    Water supply services in Paris are managed by Eau de Paris, a public utility responsible for production and distribution. They ensure the quality and safety of tap water, which is drinkable throughout the city. Billing is typically based on consumption.

    Like electricity, the gas market in France is open to competition. Engie is the historical provider, but many other suppliers are offering competitive rates. Gas is commonly used for heating, cooking, and hot water.

    France has a highly developed telecommunications infrastructure, offering high-speed internet, phone, and TV packages. Major providers include Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Free. Services and prices vary, so it’s beneficial to compare offers.

    The city of Paris has a structured waste collection and recycling program. Households are provided with different bins for regular waste, recyclables (like paper, plastic, and glass), and organic waste in some areas. Collection schedules vary by neighborhood.

    Buildings in Paris might be heated through individual heating systems or collective heating (central heating for the entire building). The energy source could be electricity, gas, or fuel oil.

    La Poste is the national postal service provider, offering mail delivery, banking services, and more.

    3. Navigating the City

    Overview of the Metro, RER, buses, and trams

    French transportation is generally of a high standard, meaning it’s easy to get around the country by train, bus, metro, and more. The beauty of the Paris public transportation system is that it is fairly intuitive, clear-cut, and easy to navigate. 

    You can make your commute a lot simpler by downloading an app. There are several apps to help you navigate French public transportation. For example, Citymapper currently covers eight French cities, including Paris. You can use the app to plan your journey, find timetables, and check for disruptions. Omio is another great option for longer journeys – with it, you can compare and book different rail, road, and airfares. For city-specific apps, check out: Bonjour RATP – Paris.

    If you’re taking a longer trip by train, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) has you covered. Their app, SNCF Connect, provides integrated maps, live updates, and a journey planner. It’s a great bet if you’re traveling by any kind of train, as it covers the Réseau Express Régional (RER).

    The RER network has 5 lines (from A to E) serving Paris and its region (Ile-de-France). The RER service begins every day – including public holidays – around 6:00 AM and ends around 12:45 AM. For the RER, the tickets and fares are the same as those of the metro, on the condition that you travel only within Paris intramural.

    If you use public transportation frequently, you’ll soon discover that the bus is a cornerstone of French everyday life. Whether you’re moving between suburbs in a large city or traveling through rural French villages, you’ll probably find that the bus is your best option.  Buses run Monday through Saturday from approximately 7:00 AM to 12:30 AM.

    One of the most efficient modes of transportation around some French cities lies right under your feet. These metro networks are often the quickest and most efficient way to travel in Paris. Tickets can typically be used across all modes of transport, allowing you to easily move from one point to another. Paris Metro zones don’t exist – the entire Paris underground is one zone. The Paris Metro network has 16 lines and more than 300 stations and covers the vast majority of neighborhoods in the French capital.

    The Transiliens are regional trains leaving from the main Parisian stations (Paris Gare du Nord, Paris Est, Paris Gare de Lyon, Paris Austerlitz, Paris Montparnasse, Paris Saint-Lazare).

    In Paris, passengers can purchase a Navigo card, a convenient pass that can be used to access transport on buses, metro, tram, and RER. Navigo cards are available for purchase online or at RATP ticket offices.  Also, you can buy a Navigo Pass on your mobile phone as of 2023.

    Paris Metro prices as of Jan. 4, 2024, is 2.15€ for a one-way ride lasting up to 2 hours. Within a Paris Metro station, tickets (but not all pass cards) can always be purchased from automated vending machines. 

    Tips for using public transport efficiently

      • A transport ticket may have limited validity, and limited geographical zones or connections. A ticket enables you to make connections up to 1hr30 after the first time it is validated, only in the combination metro/RER or bus/tramway.

      • When you leave Paris by public transport (to go to Versailles, Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport), you enter a new pricing zone, which sometimes requires the use of several tickets (bus) or a transport ticket that is valid for several zones (in the RER, for which tickets are available in the station).

      • Unfortunately, pickpockets can be an issue on the Paris Métro, particularly if you look like a tourist. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times.

      • Paris Metro hours run from roughly 05:30 to 00:40 (5:30 am to 12:40 am) Sunday through Thursday and 05:30 to 01:40 on Fridays, Saturdays, and on days before a holiday.

      • Paris Metro times between trains range from 2 minutes during rush hour up to 13 minutes during late night hours, holidays, and Sundays.

      • French metro systems do not operate throughout the night. You’ll need to catch a local night bus (Noctilien) if you want to get home after it closes. The Noctilien allows travel in Paris and its region from 12:30 AM to 5:30 AM.

    Map of the public transport network

    Metro map, RER map and BUS map

    The walkability of Paris

    Paris is so easy to do by foot and it is very accessible to pedestrians (no metro stop is more than 500 meters from any point in Paris). On the other hand, the French Hiking Federation has released a list (2023) of towns where it’s good to be a pedestrian. In Paris, it’s no longer a secret that pedestrian comfort is less than optimal in terms of safety, space on sidewalks, or the passage of bike lanes over them: in fact, the capital scored a meagre 6.5/20 in the Walkable Cities Barometer.

    Nevertheless, do walk the streets of Paris, it’s by far the best possible way to enjoy it!

    Bike-sharing services and cycling routes

    It can’t go unnoted that the largest and most iconic cycling event in the entire world, the Tour de France, happens each summer in Paris!

    Paris has a wonderful public bike-share system available throughout the city called Vélib’ Métropole. This is a public bike system where you can rent a bike for a short-term period, like a few hours or a day, and then return it to one of the many bike docs around the city.

    With over 1,000 kilometers of bike paths and bike lanes in Paris and almost 6,000 kilometers in the Paris region, it is easy to see why one might want to cycle in and around the capital. The Geovelo app is an essential companion for cyclists in Paris since it advises you on the most suitable and safest routes to take (available in English).

    Some cycling routes for exploring the capital we can suggest:

    Route # 1: Classic Paris, along the Seine

    Route # 2: Parisians’ Paris, along the canals

    Route # 3: The Left Bank from the Bois de Vincennes to the Bois de Boulogne

    Route # 4: Off-the-beaten-track Paris, from Place de la Nation to Place de Clichy

    4. Working in Paris

    Key industries and job market overview

    With the 7th largest economy worldwide, France relies on its largest industries as significant financial contributors. Manufacturing, energy, agriculture, transport, technology, and tourism are the leading industries in the country. France prides itself on being a global leader in luxury products with popular brands like Bugatti, Dior, and Chanel, so it’s no surprise that the manufacturing sector is responsible for 86% of total production in France. The manufacturing sector also includes food and beverage.

    Additionally, France is home to the largest utility company in the world, Electricite de France. The technology sector includes aerospace, automotive, agri-food, and medical device advances.

    Finally, tourism makes up 10% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), since Paris is the 2nd most visited city in the world after New York City.

    The workforce here is highly qualified. The Paris region gathers 23.1% of all jobs in France and 35% of French executives. The working population is aged between 25 and 39 (39%), 49% are women and 39.5% are university graduates with an international focus.

    France also interests investors. Part of the reason for this is that the French government creates incentives for foreigners to to start a business in France. Some of the best sectors for business investment include e-commerce, biotechnology, telecommunications, and manufacturing. 

    Resources for job hunting, including websites and networking events

    Anyone can work in Paris, provided you have the proper visa and permit. Another way to work without a permit is to come to Paris with a family member who has a specific permit for skilled labor. French speakers have the best chance of finding work in Paris, as the choices become much more limited if your language skills are not that great.

    Take a look at a search engine for jobs in Paris. Here are a few of the better job websites: Craigslist,Expatica, Go Abroad, Learn-4-Good, The Local, and Mister Bilingue.

    If you’re from the EU/EFTA, you can look for a job in France through EURES.

    Also, jobs are posted by the French national employment agency Pôle Emploi.

    Additionally, if you are looking for job websites you can visit online platforms: ABG – scientific/medical jobs, Cadremploi – managerial jobs, L’Etudiant – students and young graduates, L’Hôtellerie Restauration – restaurants and hotel jobs, IAPA (International Au Pair Organization) – a list of French agencies for au pair jobs, Indeed France, Les Jeudis, Monster, Recrut, Stratégies Emploi – marketing, communications, and PR jobs.

    Employment search engines across France are Jobted, Option Carriere, and Trovit.

    English-speaking jobs in France you can find here: Jobs in Paris (despite the name, jobs throughout France), Momji (teaching and childcare), The Local, and The American Library in Paris (which has a community message board with job advertisements).

    FUSAC is a Paris-focused, English-language, web-based magazine with lots of job ads and can also put you in touch with others in the English-speaking community of Paris – good for work and social networking.

    Jobs in France should be widely advertised but, in reality, many positions are filled through personal contacts; networking is thus important because even a casual acquaintance could lead you to a potential job. Viadeo, the French social networking site can help you in making connections. Alternatively, join a Meet-up group to make contacts with like-minded individuals working in similar fields.

    To start a business in Paris, you’ll need a residence permit or to be an EU citizen. You’ll also need a social security number and a French address. In addition, you have to be at least 18 years old. 

    For foreigners who wish to open a business in France one way to handle the registration quickly and efficiently is by using a one-stop shop like Companow or SeDomicilier or guidelines offered by The Ministry of Economies.

    Useful resources:

    Pôle Emploi – French government employment agency

    APEC – The national agency for skilled professionals

    EURES – EU job portal

    Cleiss.fr – Useful social security advice and contact information

    Welcome to France – For an update on a range of issues

    Worker’s rights list

    Work Culture and Etiquette

    French labor laws encourage work-life balance and protect employees from being overworked, so it’s understandable why France ranks 6th of 38 countries on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index for work-life balance. 

    French law states that the standard work week is 35 hours and anything above this amount is considered overtime. Anything beyond this is considered overtime and should be compensated as such. The maximum number of working hours per week is 48.

    In addition, French law requires employees to have a rest day, usually Sunday, and are limited to six working days per week. A law also gives workers the droit à la déconnexion, or the right to disconnect. This means you cannot be required to monitor or respond to phone calls or emails outside of your regular working hours. Full-time employees are entitled to five weeks of paid leave annually.

    French business etiquette tends to be quite strict and begins with professionalism. This means you should always address your superiors and those you meet for the first time in French using Monsieur or Madame. You should also use the formal version of “you” (vous) in business settings. In a French business context, introductions are always made using your first and last name. 

    Typical work hours, holidays, and French work culture nuances

    Regular business hours in France are usually 8:00 to 16:00 or 9:00 to 17:00.

    Proper business etiquette means the French avoid calling or meeting anyone during their lunch break, usually between 12:00 and 14:00. 

    Punctuality is essential in France.

    Although most French business people know English, you should speak French since they prefer to communicate in French. The French will appreciate your effort to learn even a few phrases, even if you are not fluent. 

    Remember, the French separate their work life and personal life. Inquiring about one’s salary and finances is taboo. To do so is considered highly inappropriate, regardless of how close the relationship is between those conversing. Likewise, if you are making a new friend out of work, don’t ask questions about their work life. Do not mention your wealth, salary, politics, or religion. Appropriate topics include art, food, music, travel, and current events.

    You should mark down important French holidays, since many businesses close for national holidays. France observes 11 public holidays each year, however, only May Day is a statutory holiday in France. Besides that, the two most widely celebrated holidays in France are Bastille Day (14 July) and All Saints Day (1 November).

    Other dates of significance:

      • New Year’s Day (Jour de l’An) – 1st of January

      • Epiphany (Epiphanie)  – 6th of January

      • Candlemas (Chandeleur) – 2nd of February

      • Easter (Pâques) – Varies every year

      • Victory in Europe Day (La fête de la Victoire en Europe) – 8th of May

      • Ascension (Jeudi de l’Ascension) – Varies every year

      • Whit Sunday (Lundi de Pentecôte) – Varies every year

      • Assumption of Mary (L’Assomption de Marie) – 15th of August

      • WWI Armistice Day (Jour d’Armistice) – 11th of November

      • Christmas Day (Noël) – 25th of December

    5. Education and Family Life

    Overview of the education system

    As of 2019, school education in France is compulsory for children between the ages of 3 and 16. State schools are free, co-ed, and secular, with a generally high standard of education. Education consists of four cycles:

      1. Preschool (écoles maternelles) – ages three to six
      2. Primary school (école élémentaire) – ages six to 11
      3. Middle school (collège) – ages 11 to 15
      4. High school (lycée) – ages 15 to 18

    There are different types of international schools and educational programs to choose from in Paris. This includes schools with English as the instruction language, those that offer a fully bilingual program in various languages, and French schools with a section internationale

    Paris is also home to 44 international schools offering various curricula including French, International, British, Montessori, American, IB, German, Canadian, and Catholic educational programs. Schools such as ISP Paris and EaB (Ecole Active Bilingue), among others, provide a wide range of educational offerings from primary through to secondary levels, with some offering boarding options and others providing immersion programs to aid non-French speakers in integrating into the French education system.

    List of prominent international schools

      • American School of Paris

      • The British School of Paris

      • Internationale Deutsche Schule Paris

      • Svenska Skolan Paris

      • Eurécole

      • Forest International School

      • Lennen Bilingual School Paris

      • Marymount International School

    Useful resources:

      • ELSA – the English Language Schools Association

    Healthcare

    France has a universal healthcare system known as Sécurité Sociale, which provides coverage for all residents. To access public healthcare, you need to register with the French Social Security system. This system reimburses a significant portion of healthcare expenses, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescribed medications. 

    Since 1945, basic health insurance provided by the state has been mandatory for all residents of France. If your household income falls below a certain threshold, you may be eligible for free health insurance coverage (complémentaire santé solidaire). If your application for legal residence has not been finalized, you may be eligible for State Medical Assistance (Aide Médicale d’Etat – AME).

    French state health insurance covers 70–100% of necessary treatments like doctor visits and hospital stays. If you wish, you can take out additional private insurance (“mutuelle”), which can cover most of the remaining costs. However, you are not obliged to do so.

    If you have lived in France for longer than three months, you can register for French healthcare via your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) office. Your local CPAM office you can find via the Ameli website.

    If you are employed, your employer will first register you with the French social security system. If you are self-employed, see the Cleiss website for special rules to follow to get healthcare coverage.

    Once registered with the French Social Security system, you will receive a Carte Vitale. The Carte Vitale is your French healthcare card that stores all of your medical information. Although the French healthcare system is exceptionally financially accessible by American standards, a Carte Vitale will streamline your medical care in the country and ensure that you are reimbursed properly for your medical visits.

    Parks, museums, and cultural activities for families

    There are truly interesting ways to explore Paris at a leisurely pace. Paris has no shortage of green pockets of nature to enjoy a picnic, take a leisurely stroll or an energetic run, ride a pony, row a boat, or go cycling.

    Head to the second-largest wood in Paris, the Bois de Boulogne. It’s a hub of outdoor activities, especially on weekends when some roads are closed to cars. You’ll find several lakes, a waterfall, the Château de Bagatelle and its gardens, sports grounds, and two horse racing courses.

    In the Bois de Boulogne, you’ll also find the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a fantastic family hangout. This amusement park has fantasy carousels, a lake, a mini zoo, interactive playgrounds, les guignols puppet theatre, pony/donkey/camel rides, giant trampolines, restaurants, and more.

    Ultimately, we cannot leave out open spaces of special purpose: Marché aux Puces de St-Ouenis is the largest flea market in Paris – and quite possibly the world and Le Marché du Livre, a specialty marketplace dedicated to antique and second-hand books.

    The French capital also has its fair share of iconic kid-friendly museums. The whole family will enjoy the fascinating exhibitions at science museums like the Palais de la Découverte (Discovery Palace), The French National Museum of Natural History, or the Science Expériences.

    Then, there is a lot of fun in The Chocolate Museum, The Paradox Museum (optical illusion museum), and The Museum of Magic. The Grevin Museum (wax museum) also makes for an entertaining afternoon outing.

    And, in fine weather, there are some lovely places to go for a walk with the family. There’s the Parc Zoologique de Paris, Luxembourg Gardens, and Paris Aquarium. Another very pleasant way to explore Paris is to go on a cruise on the Seine.

    Not to mention, theme parks like Disneyland Paris or Thoiry Safari Park are a great way to keep the kids entertained.

    6. Food and Dining

    Culinary Scene

    Paris is one of Europe’s culinary centers – meaning the food in Paris extends beyond the traditional French cuisine. The table here is a symbol of conviviality and the meal is a moment of happiness and friendship. Therefore, dinner parties are carefully thought out and taken highly seriously.

    The Parisians do not simply go to the restaurant to eat, they go there to live an experience during which they can relax, and taste a cuisine still unknown. This takes part in the art of slow living and making the basic pleasures of life exceptional. This is why they like to go to beautiful restaurants, with unique décor and special history. We can say that in Paris, eating is the tradition of a true sensory experience that has built the demand for the delicate French palate. 

    Michelin-starred restaurants offer exceptional culinary experiences for those seeking fine dining. These establishments showcase innovative techniques, exquisite presentations, and carefully curated menus. On the other hand, Paris is a multicultural city, and its food scene reflects this diversity.

    You can find a wide range of international cuisines, including Italian, Lebanese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Moroccan, and more. Neighborhoods like Le Marais, Belleville, and Chinatown offer an array of international dining options. Rue Montorgueil and the Latin Quarter are popular areas for street food enthusiasts: here, you can find food trucks, market stalls, and small kiosks selling specialties like crêpes, falafel, galettes, sandwiches, and artisanal ice cream.

    Parisian cuisine and must-try dishes

    French cuisine is so highly regarded around the world that in 2010 UNESCO added it to its list of intangible cultural heritage. Unsurprisingly, France boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other country in the world. And almost a quarter of them can be found in Paris alone. Needless to say, if you’re an avid foodie, you’ll be overwhelmed with the dining options in the City of Lights.

    Here’s our list of the top French foods you simply must try. 

      • Soupe à l’oignon (Traditional French soup made of onions and beef stock)

      • Coq au vin (Chicken braised with wine, mushrooms, salty pork or bacon (lardons))

      • Cassoulet (Dish of white beans stewed slowly with meat)

      • Bœuf bourguignon (A stew made from beef braised in red wine, beef broth, and seasoned vegetables)

      • Chocolate soufflé (Light, airy dessert)

      • Flamiche (Pastry filled with cheese and vegetables)

      • Confit de canard (Duck meat marinated in salt, garlic, and thyme)

      • Salade Niçoise (Mix of lettuce, fresh tomatoes, boiled eggs, tuna, green beans, Nicoise Cailletier olives, and anchovies)

      • Ratatouille (Vegetables shallow-fried and baked)

      • Tarte Tatin (Apples cooked in sugar and butter in pastry)

    And something for after…

      • Wine and cheese…

    Bon appétit!

    List of iconic Parisian cafes and bistros

    ICONIC PARISIAN CAFES   ICONIC PARISIAN RESTAURANTS AND BISTROS
    LA BOSSUE LE CAFE JACQUEMART-ANDRE EPICURE (MICHELIN 3*)
    COZY BOSQUET LE PRE CATELAN (MICHELIN 3*)
    HOLYBELLY ASPIC (MICHELIN 1*)
    CAFE FRANCOEUR VERSE TOURJOURS
    BRASSERIE LES DEUX PALAIS II ETAIT UN SQUARE BOUTARY
    CON ALEGRA PARIS PUR-JEAN-FFRANCOIS-ROUQUETTE
    JOZI CAFE BUS TOQUE
    A LACROIX PATISSIER LES BARIOLES DE MAUD PARIS 9  
    AU PETIT VERSAILLES DU MARAIS ALIX ET MIKA – TARTARES SUR MESURE  
    ANGELINA BISTROT INSTINCT  
    BERTHILLON BOUTARY  
    LADUREE   114 FAUBOURG  
    Cafes, bistros and restaurants

    Supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and specialty stores

    Some of the main supermarket chains in France include Auchan, Carrefour, Intermarché, Leclerc, Monoprix, and Super U.

    If you’re after a more niche shopping experience in France, you might want to check out a specialty supermarket. NaturéO and Biocoop are the organic retailers that specialize in organic, local, and seasonal foods throughout France and M&S Food is offering British and international foods in neighborhood locations.

    Most stores (regardless of size) will generally open at around 08:00 and close around 20:00 or 21:00. Be aware that most supermarkets in France remain closed on Sundays.

    Sometimes you’re in a hurry and need to grab a quick bite to eat. In France, you can do this by visiting your nearest convenience stores (8 à Huit, Carrefour, Monoprix, Spar).

    Don’t fancy marching down the aisles in your local French supermarket? Then why not head to your nearest food market? For many, the thought of wandering through a French market is one of the main attractions of life in France.

    Schedule of weekly farmers’ markets

    Say “Bonjour” and don’t be shy to ask for samples at the cheese stalls as it is nearly impossible to know where to start when the selection is so diverse and unique. For this reason, we bring you a list of the best outdoor food markets in Paris to explore:

    SAINT-GERMAIN COVERED MARKET 4-6 rue Lobineau, 6th Arrondissement Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 08-20h closed Mondays and Sunday afternoons  
    RUE MOUFFETARD MARKET STREET Rue Mouffetard, 5th Arrondissement, Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 08-13h, closed Mondays  
    THE MARCHÉ RASPAIL Boulevard Raspail, 6th arrondissement. Opening hours: Tuesday 07h-14h and Friday 07h-14:30h  
    MARCHÉ DES ENFANTS Rue de Bretagne Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday 08:30h-20:30h. Sunday: 08:30h-17h.  
    MARCHÉ BARBES Few steps from the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, Opening hours: Wednesday 08h-13h and Saturday 07h-15h.  
    MARCHÉ BASTILLE Boulevard Richard Lenoir, behind the Bastille monument, Opening hours: Thursday and Sunday 07h-15h.  
    MARCHÉ BATIGNOLLES Along the Boulevard des Batignolles in the 17th arrondissement. Opening hours: Saturday morning 08h-15h.  
    Farmers markets

    Thanks to the French pride in quality and origin, more than 80 food markets remain active today in Paris. Outdoor markets are a quintessential part of French life. So go be like a true Frenchie and dare to dive into the unique world of French outdoor food markets. 

    7. Leisure and Entertainment

    Museums, galleries, and theaters

    With so many world-famous attractions to explore in France’s vibrant capital, narrowing down your options can feel overwhelming. So to help you experience the best of the enchanting City of Lights, here are the best places to visit in Paris. 

      • Explore the world’s largest and most visited museum, the Louvre. Home to around 38,000 works of art and artifacts and is one of the busiest places to visit in Paris. Needless to say, it’s a good idea to book your ticket in advance.

      • From the remarkable sculptures to the breathtaking paintings, the Musee d’Orsay is a treasure trove of creative masterpieces.

      • Musee Marmottan Monet has the most wonderful collection of Monet paintings.

      • Petit Palais offers an excellent permanent exhibition, with top paintings from many major artists from the Renaissance till modern times.

      • Musee de Cluny is arguably Europe’s (and certainly France’s) best collection of medieval art. The Cluny has recently undergone a makeover that has rendered it both more accessible and interactive, designed to appeal to a multi-generational audience.

      • Centre Pompidou – Modern Art Museum – is taking you through the best modern art from Brancusi and Miro to Modigliani and Marcel Janco.

      • Atelier des Lumieres offers you shows and each is unique and fascinating and a feast for the eyes and ears. No one is too young or old for this immersive experience.

      • Palais Garnier is a magnificent 19th-century opera house. We recommend that everyone attend the ballet or the opera at least once in their lives.

      • The Opera Bastille (along with the Palais Garnier) offers top-class opera with world-class stars.

    Overview of Parisian nightlife, from jazz clubs to nightclubs

    Nightlife in Paris is concentrated in Pigalle (particularly trendy SoPi, or South Pigalle), around Canal Saint-Martin and Strasbourg Saint-Denis, and in the buzzy Grands Boulevards district.

    Below you can find after-hours spots for further Paris inspiration:

      • The most famous cabaret in the world is the spectacular Moulin Rouge. These risqué performances have been enticing audiences since 1889 when the venue first opened.

      • A whole host of prestigious productions are staged all year round in Paris. The biggest shows play here at top venues like Accor Arena, the Opéra National de Paris, the Palais des Sports, the Théâtre du Châtelet, the Théâtre Mogador, the Zénith de Paris.

      • New Morning is a laid-back jazz venue that attracts music lovers from around the world, as well as plenty of loyal locals. The main draw here is still the excellent roster of jazz performers (from the start, stars like Chet Baker and Stan Getz played here). Check out the program online and book ahead.

      • Le Duc des Lombards is for jazz enthusiasts, this concert venue/restaurant in central Paris offers a varied program of French and international acts in a setting that is optimized for acoustics, and where crowds hush respectfully to hear the musicians. 

      • Silencio, David Lynch’s first nightclub venue is a must for film lovers, aesthetes, and artists. Inside this cool subterranean space, the bar from the director’s cult film Mulholland Drive is transformed into a real-life venue.

      • Crazy Horse is a legendary cabaret located in the prestigious “Golden Triangle” area in the 8th arrondissement and is the most creative of its kind in Paris. 

    Parks, gardens, and day trips from Paris

    Parisian parks provide the perfect playground for you and your family to unwind and embrace Parisian L’art De Vivre À La FrançaiseA French Way of Life:

      • Together with its gardens, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most famous world heritage monuments and most beautiful places in Paris. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site the Palace of Versailles mesmerizes visitors with its premises, The Royal Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, the Chapel, the Royal Opera, and the Museum of the History of France.

      • Nestled between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Gardens feature wide pathways, refreshing fountains, and various sculptures.

      • Not far from the Panthéon, created upon the initiative of Queen Marie de Medici in 1612 the Luxembourg Gardens which cover 25 hectares of land are split into French gardens and English gardens. Between the two, lies a geometric forest and a large pond.  A central reason the park is among the most successful in the world is its seamless integration into the fabric of the city around it, which makes it easily accessible.

      • Jardin des Plantes is a historic botanical garden that today hosts several family-friendly tourist attractions. From humid tropical rainforests to arid deserts, the Grand Greenhouses of the Jardin des Plantes recreate a variety of exotic and distant ecosystems that are just waiting to be explored.

      • Other noteworthy parks in Paris include the Bois de Boulogne (housing the Jardin d’Acclimatation), the Bois de Vincennes (home to the Vincennes Zoo), Parc Montsouris, Parc Monceau, and Parc de Belleville.

    8. Practical Tips and Advice

    Basic French phrases for daily life and tips for learning French

    French is – perhaps surprisingly – the second most common foreign language after English and is taught in schools around the world. All of this makes French the sixth most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish, and Arabic.

    The French people feel a deep sense of pride in their language as it is often closely linked to French identity.

    Despite the convenience of English, many French people may prefer to communicate in their native language, particularly in more local or traditional settings. It’s not that they can’t speak English; rather, there’s a cultural appreciation for those who try to speak French. So learning a few words can ease your transition into new surroundings:

      • Bonjour – Hello/Good day (formal/informal). 

      • Bonsoir – Good evening (formal/informal). 

      • Au revoir –  Good-bye

      • Salut –  Hi/Bye

      • Oui/ Non – Yes/ No

      • Merci/ Merci beaucoup – Thank you/ Thank you very much.

      • De rien – You’re welcome.

      • Excusez-moi/ Pardon! – Excuse me/Sorry!

      • Ça va? – How are you?

      • Je ne sais pas –  I don’t know.

      • Où est…? – Where is…?

      • Je ne comprends pas – I don’t understand. 

      • Je ne parle pas français. – I don’t speak French. 

      • Enchanté –  Nice to meet you.

      • A bientôt! – See you soon!

      • C’est combien? – How much is it?

      • Je suis désolé. – I’m sorry.

      • S’il vous plait – Please

      • Madame/Monsieur/Mademoiselle – Mrs. /Mr. /Miss

    To improve your French, you can take classes in a French university such as the Cours de Civilisation Française at La Sorbonne, one of the best-known institutions for learning French in Paris. 

    If your budget allows it, you can join a paying organization that proposes foreign language courses such as Language Studies International (LSI) Paris.

    If you prefer a less formal setting, take a look at Let Them Talk language courses in small groups, which help you progress in French through conversations and workshops.

    If you don’t want to go down the traditional classroom route and sign up to your local Institut français, you can download a learning app, like Babbel, Preply, Duolingo, or Pimsleur for individual purposes.

    Emergency numbers and safety tips for living in Paris

    SAMU/ ambulance 15
    Police 17
    Fire Brigade 18
    SOS Doctors 36 24
    Emergency for deaf and hard-of-hearing 114
    Lost or stolen credit cards 0 892 70 57 05
    Emergency numbers

    Safety tips:

      • If you are a victim or witness of an accident in the country in the European Union you can dial number 112. It will get you straight through to the emergency services – police, ambulance, fire brigade.

      • Make copies of your identity papers and keep them in a safe place, even in a digital version in your email box.

      • Favor payments by banker’s card or mobile phone and avoid carrying large sums of money.

    Opening a bank account and managing expenses

    Finding accommodation in France is notoriously challenging due to the chicken-or-the-egg requirement that exists between banks and landlords. That is, landlords want you to provide your banking information as part of your dossier, but French banks need you to provide an address to create a new account. 

    Maintaining a US bank account if you move to France is good advice, as is a recommendation for opening an account with an online money transfer provider, such as Wise (formerly Transfer Wise). They make it simple to send money between accounts and in different currencies. Also, their conversion rates are way more reasonable than standard US banking solutions; the transfers arrive quickly; and opening an account comes with a debit card that lets you withdraw cash from many ATMs throughout the world for low-to-zero fees. 

    Open or maintain an American credit card that will allow you to continue building credit even while abroad.

    Within traveler circles, the Capital One Venture is known as a great, sturdy credit card, great for beginners.

    Even if you have zero dollars to invest right now, you will be grateful to have an account already open if you find yourself in a position to begin investing while still living abroad. Moreover, having an account already open may save a lot of time and headaches down the road. 

    Charles Schwab and Interactive Brokers are two reliable banks that Americans can open and continue to operate from abroad. That said, due to FATCA19 regulations, it is recommended to open an account with your American address before leaving. If you will not be retaining a US residence when you move, open it with an immediate family member or trusted friend’s address.

    Some suggestions on a few common French banks for US citizens: CIC, BNP, Paribas, Société Générale, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel.

    9. Expat Experiences and Community

    Forums, groups, and clubs for expats in Paris

    As an English-speaking expat who has just moved to Paris and looking for a community of people in the same boat, you can discover the expat community in Paris with our list of top expat forums, clubs, and groups.

      • American Club in Paris: This prestigious expat club hosts regular dinner parties, lectures, guided tours, and happy hours. Both a cultural and social group, the organization prides itself on being one of the oldest non-diplomatic American institutions in France.

      • American Church in Paris: The church has regular weekly services, with many centered around family worship, as well as choirs, bible study, regular lectures and talks, and charity work that you can volunteer to help with.

      • American Women’s Group of Paris: Open to English-speaking women of all nationalities, the group organizes almost daily events to help female expats abroad make friends and discover Paris. With a book club, antique classes, guided tours, and hiking excursions, there’ll be something for everyone.

      • American Library in Paris: This library has been running for 95 years and currently has about 2,000 members. It is the largest English-language lending library in Europe with over 10,000 volumes. Offering book groups for grown-ups and children alike, children’s storytime, and a teen writing group to foster creativity, this library is perfect for your whole family. 

      • WICE: This organization aims to unite English speakers living in Paris through numerous opportunities to learn new things. Language, cookery, wine, photography, and art classes are all available, as well as regular guided tours, talks on history and literature, and a bilingual book group. 

    If you are a digital native, you know that many events are organized on social networks. Join one of the many Facebook groups such as:

      • American Expats in Paris, 

      • British Expats in Paris Group, 

      • Run in Paris, 

      • Franco-American events in Paris, 

      • Aussie Expats in Paris Meetup Group 

      • Young Americans / Aussies / British / Canadians / Irish in Paris. 

    Stories and tips from expats on integrating into Parisian life

    Expat life in Paris is like regular life but with some cultural curve balls thrown at you. We asked expats to share their biggest mistakes, lessons, and misconceptions after arriving in Paris. So you can live and learn, or you can take it from these foreigners who have “been there, done that” before you.

    “A key thing to know about being an expat is that it’s not quite the dream people make it out to be. At first, it’s exciting and it’s like you’re on a vacation every day, but that wears off after a while once you get down to the business of living. That’s the point where you start adapting to the culture instead of marveling at it”, Frank says.

     “I gradually learned about the relative inflexibility of the job market here compared to the United States. Back home, I think people are less limited by their studies than they are here in France. In France, if you study journalism, it’s to work as a journalist. If you study law, it’s to be a jurist or a lawyer… and so forth. In the US, I’d always been told to choose my major based on my interests and passions, and that job opportunities would work themselves out naturally. Here, that’s not really the case. It’s relatively difficult to find a career outside of the subjects you studied in school”, Rosie says.

    “I think the most important lesson I learned, and quite quickly, was that it wasn’t up to Parisians to adapt to me but for me to adapt to them and the nuances of living in Paris. I became convinced that a lack of convenience in daily life  — short shop hours, unavailability of some products, busy supermarkets with one cashier working, and delivery services— was a symbol of an inefficient and laggard culture. Now it’s clear that America prides gratuitous convenience above all else”, Lindsey says.

    “Moving to Paris, especially as a single person who doesn’t know anyone, can be a very stressful situation. Trying to meet new people can be tough, especially if you don’t really speak the language. It’s therefore very easy to fall into the typical ‘expat’ trap of panicking and becoming an English tutor or working in a bar. If this happens and it isn’t what you want to do, go with it. Build yourself a network of friends and then focus on getting that dream job”, Fraser says.

    “What was really hard for me in my first few years here was making friendships with French women. Don’t be too enthusiastic at first and expect friendships to click and become super close super-fast the way they can with Americans where you are sharing and confiding quickly. I would say it takes five years for someone to consider you a close, intimate friend here“, Rachel says.

    “There will be many times, especially in the first year, that you will want to give up. Where it all feels too hard. Where it feels like you will never learn the language. Where it feels like the loneliness is unbearable. In those moments, booking yourself a one-way ticket home and saying au revoir to all that will be immensely tempting. Moving abroad is not all ponies and unicorns. It will change you, it will change your relationship, and it will be a lot of hard work. The sooner you get the fantasy of ‘wine on terraces all day out’ of your head, the better”, says Zoe.

    “The amount of payoff you get from immigrating is directly related to how much work you put in adjusting. If you don’t put in the effort, you will fail to integrate, period”, says Matt.

    “I thought I had prepared myself enough, and that living in NYC had made me resilient to pretty much anything Paris could throw at me. But I still have days I cry because I can’t properly express myself in French, or I miss my friends back in the States. It gets easier after the first year and I’ve learned to not take the mistakes so much to heart”, Charli says.

    Conclusion

    Recap of the joys and challenges of living in Paris

    As an expat living in Paris experiences are both enriching and challenging.

    Joys of living in Paris

      • Cultural Richness: Imagine having the world’s most iconic museums and art at your doorstep. Living in Paris means having unparalleled access to world-class art, music, and theater.

      • Culinary Excellence: Dining in Paris is an affair to remember. Whether you’re savoring a croissant from a local boulangerie or indulging in a gourmet meal, the city’s culinary scene is a testament to the French love affair with food. It’s a place where food is not just eaten but celebrated.

      • Vibrant Living: Yes, Paris is known for its high cost of living, but it’s also a place where the quality of life is paramount. The city’s vibrancy, amenities, and the sheer beauty of your surroundings make every euro spent worth it.

    Challenges of living in Paris:

      • Navigating the bureaucracy: Dealing with administrative processes and navigating the bureaucratic system in a foreign country can be complex. Patience and persistence are key!

      • Language Barrier: While many Parisians speak English, not speaking French can be a barrier in many aspects of daily life, from navigating administrative tasks to socializing and fully integrating into the community.

      • Small Living Spaces: Due to the high demand and cost of real estate, apartments in Paris are often smaller than what one might expect for the price, especially in the more desirable arrondissements.

      • Cultural adjustment: Adjusting to the pace of life, social norms, and French customs can take time. Building connections and integrating into the local community requires effort and an open mind. The Parisian way of life can be very different from what you are used to. For example, the pace of life is slower, and people take their time to enjoy things like coffee breaks and meals. 

      • Expensive cost of living: Paris is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Housing can be particularly pricey, and daily expenses, dining out, and entertainment can also add up quickly. So managing finances and budgeting effectively is essential to maintaining a comfortable lifestyle.

      • Homesickness: Being away from family and the familiar can lead to occasional bouts of homesickness. Building a support network and staying connected with loved ones help alleviate this challenge.

    Paris isn’t just a place to live; it’s a way to live. Paris wasn’t built in a day, and your adventure here is just beginning. With patience and perseverance, you’ll build your own place within the city’s vibrant community.

    Additional Resources

    Links to official websites for public transport:

    Links to official websites for housing:

    Links to official websites for job hunting:

    Links to official websites for Expat communities:

    Recommended books and guides on living in Paris

      • “Paris Survival Guide: for Expatriates, Students, Non-French People, and Other Curious Bystanders: 131 Ways to Make Your Parisian Life Easier”, by Marianne Ly (Author)

      • “(Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living Paperback” by Mark Mark Greenside (Author)

      • “A Year in the Merde Paperback” by Stephen Clarke (Author)

      • “Me Talk Pretty One Day Paperback” by David Sedaris (Author)

      • “The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation” by Julie Barlow (Author), Jean-Benoit Nadeau (Author)

      • “The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris ” by John Baxter (Author)

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