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Living in France: Everything You Need to Know

France's high living standards, rich culture, and remote work friendly environment are attracting expats and digital nomads seeking a new home. Here is our go-to post about everything you should know about living in France.
three French flags on a railing

1.Introduction

    2.  Navigating Legalities and Paperwork

      3. Everyday Life in France

        4. Renting in France

          5. Leisure and entertainment in France

            6.  Practical Tips for a Smooth Transition

              7. Conclusion

              Introduction

              Many foreign residents call France their new home, especially as remote work grows in popularity and global mobility becomes more accessible. Expats and digital nomads are drawn in by the high standard of living, cultural richness, and the joie de vivre that is part and parcel of French life.

              France, being a part of the EU and the Schengen Zone, offers a variety of visa programs that make it easier for foreigners to gain permanent residency or even citizenship.

              France’s quality of life is exceptional, with a highly developed infrastructure, excellent schools, and one of the best healthcare systems in the world. The lifestyle, rather than the high salaries, draws many people to France.

              France performs well across many well-being dimensions relative to other countries in the Better Life Index. France outperforms the average in work-life balance, safety, social connections, and civic engagement.

              Overview of France’s diverse regions

              France’s climate is broadly temperate but can be divided into four distinct zones: oceanic in the west with moderate temperature variations and frequent rainfall; continental in central and eastern areas featuring cold winters and hot summers; Mediterranean in the southeast with hot, dry summers, mild damp winters, and abundant sunshine; and mountain climates above 600-800m altitudes, with heavy rainfall and snow for three to six months a year.

              France’s geographical diversity is as vast as its climate, being the third-largest European country with an area of 551,500km². Its boundaries are predominantly shaped by water bodies and mountains, contributing to its unique charm. France boasts four distinct coastlines: the North Sea, the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea, extending over 3,427km. The country also includes overseas territories (DOM-TOMs), such as the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique and the tropical haven of French Polynesia, further enriching France’s geographical and climatic diversity.

               Basic info about France

              Population: Over 67 million   Capital city: Paris (also the largest city)   Main languages: French is the official language  
              Main religion: Christianity. Other religions include Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism.   Political system: Constitutional republic   Time: GMT+1. Clocks move forward an hour in March and back an hour in October.  
              Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are used   Currency: Euro (EUR)   International dialing code: +33  
              Internet domain: .fr   Emergency numbers: 112 (European general emergency number) 17 (police) 15 (specialist medical services), 18 (fire and accident)   Road traffic: Drives on the right  
              Basic info about France

              Living in the French countryside

              France is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most beautiful countries. From the rugged peaks of the Alps and the Pyrenees to the sweeping beaches of the Atlantic coastline, there is plenty to fall in love with. If you’re looking for a more relaxed lifestyle with time for your favorite hobbies and sports, where you decide to settle in France will depend on your preferences. France has stunning scenery and nature – from lakes and mountains to beaches and coastlines. 

              Let’s discover the best cities in France for ex-pats who want to enjoy their leisure time while living in France.

              Golf courses in France

              If you enjoy a relaxing game of golf, you can tee off on several courses around France. Reputed as one of the best golf courses in France, the Chantilly course in Vinieuil is ideal if you live in Paris. For golf in northern France, the 18-hole Les Pins in Neufchâtel Hardelot is one of Europe’s top 100 golf courses.

              Fans of the sport will love golf in Normandy, which has around 50 courses.

              If you decide to live further south, the golf courses in southwest France are in the Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Gers, the Pyrenees Atlantiques, and the Hautes Pyrenees. Travel further north, and you can find some of the best golf courses in Brittany on the Atlantic coast.

              Hiking and climbing in France

              France offers a vast selection of walking trails and hikes for all levels. From the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, living in an area where you can walk for miles is exhilarating. With lavender-filled fields and hot sunny days, Provence is the perfect location for nature lovers; if you prefer more dramatic scenery, head for the Atlantic coastline in the French Basque country or further north to Normandy.

              The ideal regions for mountain climbing in France are the Alps and the Pyrenees, whereas climbing in Fontainebleau offers a unique experience—bouldering. These locations are also suitable for skiing or snowboarding. Enthusiasts gather at the popular resorts of Chamonix or Méribel in the French Alps and Saint-Lary-Soulan or Grandvalira in the Pyrenees.

              France by bike

              Cycling is a widespread passion for many young and older adults and a great way to discover the countryside. If you’re a wine lover, you’ll enjoy cycling through the quiet vineyards of Burgundy and the Loire Valley, while the paths along the Dordogne River and through the Gironde are smooth and flat.

              If you live in the French Pyrenees area, you’ll also find some of the best cycling climbs in France, such as the Pyrenees Cycling Club. Cyclisme Amivelo has a list of most of the cycling clubs in France, so you can cycle with others wherever you live.

              Mediterranean France

              If you live near the Côte d’Azur, which has some of the best beach cities in France, you can go snorkeling, paddle boarding, or lie on the beach. Choose from the famous beaches of Nice and Cannes, or for quieter beaches, head for the bay of Pampelone in Ramatuelle or the cliff-backed secret cove of Pointe de l’Aiguille.

              Diving in Nice is popular and allows you to discover the fascinating underwater world of the Mediterranean. Several diving schools are located along this coast, suitable for beginners and experts who are used to diving in France.

              Atlantic coast in France

              If you’re looking for where to surf in France, head for the French Atlantic coast. This wild coastline area is the best place to surf in France. There are beaches for all types of surfers, whether you’re a novice or a professional wave rider. Some of the most popular beaches for surfers are Lacanau, La Sauzaie (where the WQS Surf Pro competition takes place), and Estagnots.

              If surfing is your passion, you’ll find plenty of properties to buy on the Atlantic coast, from La Rochelle down to Biarritz near the Spanish border. This region is also ideal for other water sports, such as windsurfing, sailing, jet-skiing, and relaxing on the beach.

              Lakes

              Some of France’s best cities are near lakes where you can kayak, paddleboard, and canoe. One of the most magical lakes in France is Lake Annecy, near the Swiss border. If you live in Annecy, you can take a boat or walk along the canal, sail on the lake, and enjoy the spectacular Alpine scenery.

              Lac de Madine is a beautiful lake with sandy beaches in the Lorraine Natural Park. Here, you can fish, swim, and enjoy the surrounding greenery.

              Useful resources:

              https://www.france-justforyou.com/

              Top cities for expatriates and what makes them attractive

              Paris

              As the capital of France, Paris is a buzzing hive of activity where you can experience the Parisian lifestyle. People fail to understand that Paris and Parisians radically differ from other people and places in France. Please read our guide to living in Paris, which provides more information about the French capital.

              Bordeaux

              Known for its excellent wines and historic landmarks, Bordeaux is a traditional French city within easy reach of the Atlantic Ocean. This city is famous for expats and French people who want a city lifestyle within easy reach of beautiful countryside. Bordeaux is perfect for families if you want to immerse yourself in the French way of life and mix with the locals. Bordeaux has a much slower and more relaxing lifestyle than Paris: a good deal between urban and calm life. If you love the ocean, it’s approximately 30 minutes by train to Lacanau Ocean. The city looks more bourgeois and wealthy if you prefer that. 

              Toulouse

              A big part of the city is pedestrian, so it is easy to walk everywhere and everything is accessible. It’s big, but not too big. You have an airport and a station with fairly good links that will get you to all the main cities without too much trouble.

              There is a vast English community, so you can easily find English bookshops, clubs, pubs, meetings, English tours at the museums, and English mass at the church. Skiing, beaches, Spain, and mountains are all within easy reach.

              Many non-French people are here, so there are communities of all types in which to get involved. 

              Lyon

              Lyon is, like Paris, the most cultural city. It’s the second largest city in France. With its metro and business headquarters, it feels like a little Paris, but it’s closer to the Alps mountains and the South. It also has the best location. It’s only a two-hour ride to Paris or Marseilles, an hour from the Alps and its skiing resorts, and Geneva and Milan are also not very far.

              Lyon is known as the French gastronomy capital. Many French food delicacies originate from Lyon and Burgundy, 100 km north.

              Culturally, Lyoners are very different from Parisians. Humble and discreet, they can become very good friends.

              Nice

              Nice by name, nice by nature.

              On the Mediterranean coast, Nice is France’s top city pick for beach-loving expats. It’s on the French Riviera, close to Monaco and Italy, and one of the nation’s prettiest cities.

              Other big plus-points include the year-round great weather, loads of options for day trips and weekend trips (to places like Èze, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, St Paul de Vence, and endless places in Italy), and lots of easy-to-access hiking trails and cycling routes.

              It can be a pricey place to live, but it’s worth it if you can afford to live here. However, if you don’t like crowds, you might want to avoid Nice.

              Facts about France that might surprise you

              Whether you’re living in France for the long term or only mid-term, learning some facts about the country will help you get to know it better. Here are some facts about France that might surprise you.

                  1. France is the largest EU country, sometimes called the Hexagon.
                  2. France is the world’s most popular tourist destination.
                  3. In 2019, France alone welcomed nearly 90 million tourists.
                  4. French was the official language of England for about 300 years.
                  5. ‘Liberté, égalitié, fraternité ‘or ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ is the national motto.
                  6. In France, you can marry a dead person!
                  7. France was the first country to ban supermarkets from throwing away food.
                  8. The first public screening of a movie was by the French Lumière in 1895.
                  9. France legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.
                  10. Europe’s highest mountain is Mont Blanc in the French Alps.
                  11. The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world.
                  12. French gastronomy was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2010.
                  13. France produced the most expensive bottle of wine in the world.
                  14. Turning a baguette upside down is seen as unlucky in France.
                  15. French law forbids couples from kissing on train platforms.
                  16. The world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France, is over 100 years old.

                There are two main categories of French visas: Short-Stay visas and Long-Stay visas, each designed for different durations and purposes of stay.

                France Short-Stay Visas

                These visas are intended for visitors travelling to France for tourism, business, family visits, or other short-term activities lasting less than 90 days. They can be single or multiple-entry visas, and there are two subcategories:

                Uniform Schengen Short-Stay visa: Also known as the “Schengen type C visa,” it allows entry into all 26 states of the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days within six months.

                Short-Stay visa for French non-European territories: Required for visiting French territories that are not part of the European mainland or the Schengen Zone.

                France Long-Stay Visas

                A long-stay visa is required for stays longer than 90 days, depending on the visitor’s nationality, visit purpose, and stay length. This includes nationalities outside the EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who are exempt or part of the Schengen visa waiver program for short stays.

                Categories of France Long-Stay Visas

                You must apply for the VLS-TS at least three months before arriving in France.

                You can submit an application form and supporting documents via the France Visas website and then attend an interview at your local consulate or embassy.

                Once your application is processed, you’ll receive a VLS-TS sticker on your passport.

                Long-stay visas can be classified based on the applicant’s purpose of stay in France:

                    1. Student Visas: These are for individuals planning to pursue their studies in France for a period longer than three months.
                    2. Work Visas: These include visas for employees, self-employed individuals, or those with unique skills or talents recognized internationally. Specific visas for highly skilled workers are known as the “Talent Passport.”
                    3. Visitor Visas: These are for individuals who wish to stay in France for more than three months without engaging in professional activities, such as retirees or those on an extended visit with family.
                    4. Family Reunification Visas: For family members of French residents or citizens wishing to join them for a long-term stay.

                  After Arrival in France

                  Upon arrival in France with a Long-Stay Visa, the visa holder must:

                    • Register with the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII). It would be best to validate your VLS-TS online by downloading the application form from the OFII website, filling in the VLS-TS application form digitally, and submitting the VLS-TS application form and a copy of your passport to OFII via email.

                  Once you submit your application, the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII) can take up to three months to process it.

                  After your application has been processed, you’ll be invited to an OFII office for a medical exam and/or to sign a Republican Integration Contract (CIR), if applicable.

                    • For stays exceeding one year, applying for a Residence Permit (Carte de Séjour) is often necessary within two months of arrival in France. Carte de Séjour is the French residence permit for non-EU citizens who must apply for a residence permit upon arrival or after their first year in France.

                  You must apply for Carte de Séjour within two months of your arrival in France if you’ve got a VLS-TS with the obligation to apply for a residence permit.

                  If, on the other hand, you’re currently on a VLS-TS visa and want to extend your stay by another year, you’ll need to apply for your Carte de Séjour 2 months before the VLS-TS expires.

                  You can apply for the Carte de Séjour by appointment at the nearest (sub) prefecture or the police headquarters if you’re in Paris. You can also do the process online.

                  Useful resources:

                  https://total.law/fr/france-visa/

                  https://administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr/particuliers/#/

                  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), France’s national healthcare system is one of the best in the world. With its access to highly trained doctors, top-notch facilities, and affordability, many say Assurance Maladie is the biggest pro about moving there. 

                  Everyone living in France for over three months, including internationals, is eligible for state health insurance. French law dictates that all residents, including new arrivals, must have health insurance.

                  However, you can still see a doctor during these months, but you will have to pay for it yourself. It’s not like it will be an exorbitant bill in most cases, though: Expats report it will cost between €30 and €50. 

                  Everyone must first register with a French health insurance company and a doctor in France and go through that doctor for most medical treatments. Around 70% of medical costs are covered by the French healthcare system, but in some cases, such as cancer, diabetes, or having a baby in France, 100% of costs are covered by the French healthcare system. 

                  Most expats moving to France are eligible for the local universal public healthcare system, Protection Maladie Universelle (PUMA). However, if you’re not eligible for the PUMA—or you simply want to top up your protection—you might want to take out private health insurance.

                  Luckily, though, there are plenty of options for getting health insurance in France. Many international arrivals choose to take out a policy with a global health insurance provider, such as Allianz Care or Cigna Global.

                  Organizing your health insurance coverage ahead of time can give you and your family peace of mind while you are busy preparing for your move to France.

                  If you’re over 18 and have a valid driving license, you can drive in France for up to 12 months. If an EU/EEA country issues your license, you can use your existing license indefinitely, although you may prefer to swap it for a local license.

                  For non-EU/EEA nationals, you’ll need to swap your driving license for a French version within your first 12 months in the country. You may also need to accompany it with an International Driving Permit, which allows you to drive legally in France. Notably, these are typically much easier to obtain in your home country, so make sure you apply well ahead of time to avoid getting stuck in first gear.

                  Opening a bank account in France simplifies local payments and may be necessary for renting or buying property. It’s a crucial step for settling in. You can use an overseas account for financial transactions if you move before opening a French account.

                  However, you can open a bank account before moving, with some banks offering accounts for non-residents (compte non-resident). Transferring should be easy if your home bank has a branch in France. Expats often benefit from international offshore accounts for flexible financial management across countries.

                  Expats living in France may find that opening an international offshore bank account is the best way to manage their finances. This is particularly helpful for anyone who works abroad, spends much time in more than one country, or frequently transfers money between countries. French banks that offer accounts suitable for expat residents include Banque Populaire, BNP Paribas, and Crédit Agricole.

                  An alternative to opening a bank account in France with a French bank is to bank with an international bank based in France. These include Axa Banque, Barclays, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC.

                  Another convenient option for setting up from abroad is to bank with an online or mobile bank operating in France. These give instant, 24/7 access to your account and offer cross-border payment transactions. Online and mobile banks in France include Bunq, Hello Bank, N26, and Revolut. Mobile-only accounts, such as those available through N26, Bunq, LeoPay, and Revolut, are also available to non-residents.

                  For international money transfers, alternative solutions to banks, such as Atlantic Money, CurrencyFair, and Wise, could prove cheaper and more convenient.

                  3. Everyday life in France

                  21 in-demand jobs in France to get you a work visa

                  The European Labor Authority (EURES) has identified several industries facing shortages, which include the manufacturing, IT, healthcare, engineering, construction and building trades, and agriculture sectors. These sectors are crucial for French economy and are experiencing a demand for skilled professionals.

                  The most in demand jobs currently in France:

                  Agricultural and industrial machinery mechanics and repairers
                  Applications programmers
                  Business services and administration managers
                  Civil engineering technicians
                  Earthmoving and related plant operators
                  Electrical engineering technicians
                  Electronic mechanics and servicers
                  Financial and insurance brand managers
                  Forestry and related workers
                  Healthcare assistants
                  Human resource managers
                  Information and communication technology operations technicians
                  Manufacturing managers
                  Mechanical engineering technicians
                  Metal processing plant operators
                  Nursing associate professionals
                  Pharmaceutical technicians and assistants
                  Physiotherapists
                  Power production and plant operators
                  Real estate agents and property managers
                  Developers and analysts
                  Plant machine operators
                  Telecommunications engineers
                  Source by EURES

                  Must-have apps

                  If you live in France, downloading the right apps onto your phone can make things much more manageable. From knowing how to navigate the local transit system to ordering the best local takeout, here’s a list of the must-have apps.

                  Best transport apps Best mobility apps   Best bank account apps
                  Citymapper is a public transit app operating in Paris, Lyon, and across Monaco’s border. It allows you to plan your route using all possible modes of transport, from walking and cycling to the metro, trains, and car shares.   With Lime, you can get around the city while riding an electric scooter. Operating in Paris and Lyon, Lime is an e-scooter-sharing platform. The app lets you locate your nearest dockless scooter, meaning you can jump on board and head off to your next destination. It’s an excellent alternative for short journeys around the city center.   N26 is a mobile bank that lets you apply for an account in minutes from your phone. The app offers a range of banking options, including a free current account, credit cards, instant payments, and more. You’ll also find the latest mobile payment options, including Apple Pay and Google Pay.  
                  The French national railway operator’s app, SNCF, is your go-to for train information and ticket purchases in France.   If you’re in Paris and prefer biking to scooting around, download Vélib’ Métropole. A bike-sharing app, you can use either e-bikes or traditional bikes to commute across the French capital. With 20,000 bikes available, you can easily find one of their bikes in your area.   Hassle-free payments worldwide with Bunq. This mobile baking app helps you save, pay, and move money quickly between accounts. You can also use it to open a bank account in France.  
                  If you live in Paris, Bonjour RATP is an essential app. The app allows you to calculate the best route, buy and renew tickets, and hire Vélib bikes.   If you want to drive to your next holiday destination, check out Rentalcars.com. With their app, you can find local cars for rent in France and choose from an extensive range of brands and car models. Operating in over 60,000 locations with customer support, you’ll be driving hassle-free in no time.   If you’re looking to transfer money internationally, download the Wise app. This app operates in over 175 countries and 50 currencies, and you can use it to send money from France worldwide.  
                  Transport, mobility, banking apps

                  Best sustainable lifestyle apps Best apps for finding a home   Best food delivery apps
                  Operating in Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, and Paris, the Tookki app helps you connect with sustainability-minded enterprises in your neighborhood. From vegan cafés to slow fashion boutiques, you can ensure your money goes green and pick up new eco-friendly hobbies. Whoomies is a flat-sharing app that specializes in matching potential flatmates together in the home of their interest. The app has rooms and flats across France, meaning all you have to do is sign up and search for your new home. You can filter by your specific needs, which helps ensure a more efficient search.   Hello Fresh delivers meal-kit boxes directly to your front door. The boxes combine fresh ingredients with recipe ideas. You can choose from a broad menu of dinner ideas that cater to various tastes and dietary needs. Boxes can be delivered anywhere on the French mainland.  
                  The Too Good To Go app connects you with local cafés, bakeries, and eateries in France. You can buy their food at a discounted price before it is disposed of. This is an excellent option for discovering local businesses while saving some money.   One of the leading renting apps, Airbnb can help you find short—and long-term rentals across France. With plenty of private rooms, apartments, and houses, you’ll find accommodation quickly.   If you like to wine and dine, download The Fork. A must for foodies, this app will help you discover and book tables at the best French restaurants. With information on average meal prices per restaurant, the app can also help you budget efficiently.  
                  The Good On You app can help you make sustainable fashion choices if you want a greener wardrobe in France. The app rates big fashion brands based on sustainability and shows which brands are ‘greener’ than others. It also offers the latest eco-friendly clothing trends in the world of fashion.   Looking for a furnished home in Paris? You can rent quality homes there with the help of Wunderflats. Especially if you want to rent a property without viewing it in person: The best way is to go through a reliable platform such as Wunderflats to rent properties safely without being on-site! Are you craving a takeaway? With Deliveroo, you can get your favorite food delivered straight to your door in France. With thousands of restaurants on the app, Deliveroo can help you explore the French food scene from the comfort of your home.  
                  Lifestyle, home, food apps

                  Mobile phone number and SIM card in France

                  The vast majority of France has 4G or 4G+ connectivity. Most visitors and expats arriving in France will find it easy to connect their phones to the local GSM mobile network. The exceptions to this are those from countries that use the CDMA network, including Japan, parts of the US, and Canada. That said, many modern smartphones will still connect on arrival. If you’re moving to France, you’ll probably want to buy a French SIM card or a brand-new phone. Getting a SIM card in France will be cheaper, although you may need to unlock your phone at a local shop. 

                  Mobile operators in France include the following: Bouygues Télécom, Coriolis, La Poste, Mobile Lebara, Mobile Lycamobile, Orange, Prixtel, Réglo Mobile, and SFR.

                  Language barrier and how to overcome it

                  Finding a job in France, where unemployment stands at 8.8%, requires at least a minimal command of French for daily use, even if your job doesn’t require it. While living in Paris as a monolingual English speaker is easy enough, you’ll be disadvantaged. 

                  The good news for expats is that French is not the most difficult language to master. The School of Language Studies (SLS) at the US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) splits the world’s significant languages into four groups, ranked by difficulty for native English speakers.

                  FSI also considers French nearly the most accessible language; essential fluency is possible in between 600 and 750 class hours of intensive learning. This is similar to the time it takes to learn Dutch, Spanish, and Italian but easier than German (750 hours) and significantly more manageable than the 2,200 hours required for Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean.                              

                  Aside from immersion, there are many other ways to learn the vocabulary, either before or after you land on French soil.

                  A few institutes have language centers across several countries. Below are some that you might want to look into.        

                    • Alliance Française is global and offers French language resources, classes, and examinations in 132 countries.

                    • Berlitz – has seven centers in the US and 16 language centers across France.

                    • International House World Organization – represents a global network of affiliated language schools across 52 countries, of which 49 teach French.

                  Other ways to learn French include finding a language exchange partner, watching language videos online, and downloading a language app. That way, you’ll feel less daunted when arriving in France and be more excited to try your new language skills.

                  There are numerous online language course providers if you want to learn in a virtual classroom environment. You can usually sign up for online classes with a personal tutor or small groups.   

                    • Parlez-vous French – offers intensive beginners’ lessons for five hours per week for four weeks.

                    • Alliance Française – has a package of online classes for nine hours per week.

                    • Italki – gives access to a network of French teachers for 1-to-1 lessons, with hourly rates to meet your budget.

                    • LanguaTalk – find a French teacher for 1-to-1 lessons online at a time that suits your schedule.

                    • Lingoda – has four-course options.

                    • Preply – is an app that offers live, online courses with tutors from all over the world.

                  Plenty of helpful online resources are available if you prefer to develop your French skills at your own pace. 

                    • Coffee Break Languages offers access to short audio French language learning tutorials, downloadable as podcasts.

                    • TV5Monde Apprendre le français is an interactive website where you can learn French through videos and over 2,000 exercises.

                    • Le Point du FLE – has over 15,000 links to support students and teachers of French as a Foreign Language (FLE).

                    • Le Plaisir d’apprendre – a platform for teachers and students that includes written and oral comprehension.

                  An electronic translator, such as Word Reference or Google Translate, can also be handy when you’re in France. Google Translate can even directly transcribe and translate speech to help the conversation flow while you still master the language.

                  If you want to learn French casually, downloading a language-learning app can be helpful. Here are a few popular ones to get you started:

                    • Babbel – a highly-rated language app with short, interactive lessons.

                    • Berlitz Talk & Travel – one app for 17 languages, including French.

                    • Bonjour! – focuses on conversation-style learning with hundreds of dialogs that you can apply in daily settings.

                    • Brainscape – based on flashcards, repetition, and quizzes.

                    • Busuu Learn French – helps you learn the basics of French with 3,000 words covering 150 topics, including games and quizzes.

                    • Duolingo – a top-rated app with daily lessons and an attractive interface.

                    • FluentU – encourages language learning through real-world videos.

                    • Fluenz French – this is specifically designed for English speakers who want to learn one of six languages, including French.

                    • Mondly – it’s all about fun and games with this app that is both educational and addictive.

                    • MosaLingua provides a virtual French language coach to get you up to speed on your basic French.

                    • Pimsleur —enables language learning based on the well-established Pimsleur Method, a series of audio courses focusing heavily on auditory and verbal perception.

                    • Rosetta Stone French – these well-known digital courses are now available as an app.

                  How much does it cost to live in France? 

                  If you think the high costs of living in France, particularly in major cities, is too much to handle, keep in mind that France has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

                  Housing

                  French housing is notoriously expensive if you go for the typical metropolitan apartment. The prices rise even more when you go from a one-bedroom apartment to a place with multiple bedrooms. However, residents can reduce their cost of living in Paris by moving to a less metropolitan area or living in the Parisian suburbs.

                  For a one-bedroom apartment in central Paris, pay up to €1,750 a month, or more than double that if you want a three-bedroom apartment. Lyon is much cheaper in terms of accommodation, with prices at around €600–€1,200 per month for a central one-bedroom apartment or €1,100–€2,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. Marseille is roughly the same as Lyon, with one-bedroom apartments starting at around €600 a month and three-bedroom properties starting at €1,200.

                  Transport       

                  Though the cost of living in Paris is higher than that of rural France, one of the benefits of living in a well-developed, metropolitan city is the extensive public transport system in France. Expats living in Paris and most other major cities in France will find they won’t need a car at all.

                  Metro systems and other public transportation in French cities are pretty good and not particularly expensive. For example, a one-way ticket in Paris costs about €2, and a monthly pass costs around €84, but there are different discounts. In rural areas, public transport is not as well developed. Many expats living in the countryside tend to have a car, with fuel costing around €1.99 a liter.

                  Taxes

                  France has several kinds of taxes (such as inheritance and corporate tax), but income tax is generally the most important. Since income tax is not deducted from employees’ salaries, everyone must fill out a French tax return.

                  If you are a non-resident, you must pay 20% income tax on any income earned in France.

                  For residents, tax rates in France are currently:
                  Up to €10,777: 0%  
                  €10,778–27,478: 11%  
                  €27,479–78,570: 30%  
                  €78,571–168,994: 41%  
                  €168,994+: 45%  
                  Taxes

                  Useful resources:

                  INSEE (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) – statistics about the French economy and social issues.

                  European Commission – pages about employment, social affairs, and inclusion in France.

                  Welcome to France – instructions for registering for Social Security.

                  Average living expenses in France

                  Within the EU, France is on the expensive side, especially when compared to other European countries like Italy and Spain. Its capital, Paris, ranks as the 2nd most expensive city in the world.

                  Let’s take a quick look at France’s average monthly living expenses.

                  The average monthly cost of living in France for a single person is around €1,800. However, this is just an estimated number, and your actual cost of living in France may be higher or lower depending on your location, specific needs, and lifestyle. For instance, if you live in Paris, the average cost of living can go up to €2,200 per month.

                  Cost of living in France Average cost per month
                  1-bedroom apartment €900 ($989)
                  Utilities €189 ($207)
                  Internet €30 ($33)
                  Monthly public transport pass €64 ($70)
                  Fitness club €35 ($38)
                  Groceries €300 ($330)
                  Leisure €280 ($307)
                  Total €1,800 ($1976)
                  City Private Room Studio Apartment
                  Paris €700 ($768) €1,326 ($1,455) €1,802 ($1977)
                  Lyon €550 ($604) €1,000 ($1,097) €1,626 ($1,784)
                  Nice €595 ($653) €750 ($823) €1,061 ($1164)
                  Bordeaux €550 ($604) €609 ($668) €1,020 ($1120)
                  Marseille €460 ($505) €600 ($659) €733 ($804)
                  Strasbourg €550 ($604) €659 ($723) €890 ($977)
                  Montpellier €495 ($543) €650 ($713) €800 ($878)
                           
                  Average cost of living in France

                  Average utility prices in France    €/$
                  Expense Average cost per month
                  Water €40 ($44)
                  Electricity €79 ($87)
                  Gas €70 ($77)
                  Internet €30 ($33)
                  Waste Collection €20 ($22)
                  Average utility prices in France

                  Understanding the cost of living in France is crucial for expats. Grocery shopping, for instance, can be more expensive than in other countries. Prices in France are 11% higher for everyday food products and 20% higher for fruits and vegetables than in other European countries.

                  Depending on your habits, diet, and where you shop, you can expect to pay €250–€300 per week for groceries in France.

                  Regarding managing your grocery budget, supermarkets like Carrefour Intermarché offer quality and a reasonable price ratio. Lidl and Aldi are worth checking out for those looking for discount deals.

                  Comparison of the average prices to eat out in France        
                  Expense Paris Lyon Nice Bordeaux
                  A meal in an inexpensive restaurant €17($18.75) €16($17.64) €15($16.54) €15($16.54)
                  Dinner (2 courses) €38($41.90) €35($38.60) €35($38.60) €34($37.49)
                  Cappuccino €3.80($4.19) €2.85($3.14) €3.62($3.99) €4.07($4.49)
                  Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) €6.80($7.50) €6.50($7.17) €8($8.82) €5.50($6.07)
                  Croissant in a café €2($2.21) €1.30($1.43) €1.25($1.38) €1.25($1.38)
                  Comparison of the average prices

                  Grocery shopping in France for your budget

                  To help you ease into your new expat life in France, we will share some tips about grocery shopping in France, which grocery stores are perfect for your budget, and how much groceries cost on average.

                  France’s top 5 supermarket chains are Carrefour, Intermarché, E.Leclerc, Auchan, and Monoprix.

                  If you are willing to pay extra bucks, here are France’s top four high-end supermarkets: Biocoop, Casino, NaturéO, and Marks & Spencer Food.

                  Below is the list of France’s least expensive to the most expensive supermarkets.

                    1. E.Leclerc
                    2. Intermarché
                    3. Colruyt
                    4. Super U
                    5. Cora
                    6. Carrefour
                    7. Auchan
                    8. Casino

                  When it comes to location, supermarket prices are generally higher in Paris, Île-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions and lower in the western areas, like Brittany, Pays de la Loire, and Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

                  Grocery store opening hours are usually from 7:30 AM to 8 PM. In the touristy neighborhoods of major cities, they remain open until 9 PM or later.

                  Grocery stores in France remain closed on Sundays—specialty stores close for at least an hour during lunchtime.

                  Tips for a better shopping experience in France:

                    1. Unless you’re in a touristy neighborhood, non-European cards won’t work. Make sure you’ve cash or a French bank card.
                    2. Buy cheese, bread, or meat in specialty stores for better quality and taste. These include the boucherie (butcher), fromagerie (cheese shop), crèmerie (dairyshop), boulangerie (bakery), patisserie (pastry), traiter (prepared meals), charcuterie, and caviste (wine merchants) stores.
                    3. Adapting to French social rules and work culture can be challenging but essential to your expat journey. French people appreciate it when you try to speak their language, even if it’s just a few phrases. This small gesture can help you integrate faster and feel more at home in your new country.

                  Average Salary

                  When you move to a country for a job, one of the most significant deciding factors is the salary you’ll receive. Knowing how much the average wage is in France can ensure you aren’t underpaid and even negotiate for a better paycheck.

                  France ranks 6th highest in minimum wage out of 21 European countries. Minimum wages have been revised in France, effective 01 January 2024. As of March 2024, the minimum wage in France is €11.65 per hour. For a full-time employee who works 35 hours a week, the minimum salary in France is €1,766.92 gross per month or €21,203 gross per year.

                  In 2023, the average salary in France was €2,340 net per month or €39,300 net per year. However, various factors, such as location, education level, experience, and industry, can influence this figure. The median salary in France is €1,940 net monthly, approximately 18% lower than the average salary. This means that 50% of the population earns less than the average salary and more than the national minimum in France.

                  Earning around €3,200 per month is considered a good income for individuals or €5,600 for a family of three. This amount considers the cost of living and allows you to cover basic expenses such as housing, food, transportation, and leisure activities.

                  Paris, Nice, and Lyon have higher living costs than the other French cities. For example, the cost of living in Paris is high, and you’ll need around €3,400 per month to live comfortably.

                  Useful resources:

                  https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living

                  4. Renting in France

                  Where to begin?

                  Rents can vary significantly between cities and neighborhoods in France. Big cities, especially Paris, are more expensive. For instance, the monthly rent for a small two-bed apartment can range from €420 to €1,500 in the city.

                  There may also be a high demand for rental properties in university towns such as Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, or Lyon, particularly from September to June.

                  Rural and suburban areas often offer a wider choice of property types, with more space at affordable rates. Here, you may come across the following terminology:

                    • Bastide – a detached, square stone building with a flat roof, typically found in the countryside.

                    • Domaine – an estate property with additional land (e.g., vineyards).

                    • Ferme/Fermette – a country farmhouse with land attached.

                    • Pavillion – a French bungalow.

                    • Longere – a rectangular one-story property like a converted barn.

                    • Mas – a traditional Provençal house in southern France or the Midi region.

                  Whether you’re buying or renting, check out our listing of expat-friendly online housing portals based in France:

                  Rental laws in France

                  French rental laws, meticulously designed to protect tenants, offer a robust sense of security in your housing situation. Landlords/-ladies are strictly limited in their eviction reasons to a few specific cases, ensuring you can enjoy your home without the fear of sudden eviction.

                  In addition, landlords/-ladies must give tenants three months (for furnished property) or six months (for unfurnished property) notice.

                  If the landlord/-lady hasn’t given you six months’ notice, you have a right to live in the rental even after your lease has expired. In this case, your contract will automatically renew for the duration of your original contract, and there’s no need to prepare a new one.

                  In a testament to their empowerment, all tenants have the right to request an extension on their lease. If their landlord/-lady refuses, they can assert their rights and appeal at a tribunal. The new owner must respect existing rental agreements if a landlord sells the property.

                  Both tenant and landlord/-lady associations provide support and advice and mediate disagreements. However, courts will resolve disputes beyond this.

                  Generally, the occupancy duration of rental contracts is at least 12 months, which is long enough to give security without a mortgage commitment. Even though tenants must maintain the property, landlords/-ladies will cover repair costs if the occupant did not intentionally damage it.

                  Renters can also enjoy a fair amount of freedom to personalize and decorate their rental homes, making them feel more at home.

                  What do I have to know about renting in France?

                  France is one of the best countries to move to as an expat, thanks to its excellent educational institutions, world-class health care system, and many job opportunities. But finding your accommodation in France involves lots of administrative work like reading and understanding your contract… and all primarily in French.  

                  Finding a home in France varies greatly. Paris presents a challenging market where speed is vital to securing a desirable location.

                  Conversely, smaller towns and rural areas offer a more relaxed pace, though limited housing availability is the main challenge. In rural settings, employing an agent and accepting the associated fee might be necessary.

                  Tenants in France enjoy legally protected rights, especially in unfurnished accommodations used as primary residences, typically under a three-year contract. During this period, eviction is not straightforward, and landlords/-ladies have restricted access to the property and are limited to repairs unless otherwise stated in the lease.

                  Rental agreements will be offered for furnished properties with a minimum 12-month rental period and unfurnished properties, typically with a minimum of three years. You’ll likely be liable for costs if you leave within the year in an unfurnished place.

                  Rights for furnished rentals are somewhat less robust, reflecting their everyday use as secondary or holiday homes, with minimum rental periods of 12 months. In bustling cities, landlords might push for furnished rentals, potentially signaling an intention to rotate tenants annually to capitalize on increasing rents.

                  Mid-term rentals (1-12 months) offer expats in France flexible leases and furnished apartments, perfect for those who don’t need a traditional long-term lease. Explore the wide selection of mid-term apartments with Wunderflats, that will make you feel right at home.

                  Before house hunting, securing a guarantor (Garant) is essential, as landlords often require a French resident to cover the rent if you’re unable. This can be challenging for newcomers, but employers or banks might serve as guarantors.

                  Despite having a guarantor, a deposit is mandatory, capped at two months’ rent for unfurnished properties, with no legal limit for furnished ones.

                  Since the law is quite favorable to tenants in France, you should be able to resolve any problems fairly quickly. If you have a problem with your tenancy, you can report it to your local council for arbitration.

                  There are also rules currently being rolled out across France that limit uncontrolled rises in rental costs. If you think your rent is too high, you might be able to apply to have your property assessed for check.

                  Useful links:

                  https://www.legalplace.fr/guides/proprietaire-recuperer-logement-avant-fin-bail/

                  5. Leisure and entertainment in France

                  Casinos and gaming clubs

                  Whether you’re interested in trying your hand at French Roulette, a round of Poker, or having some fun at the slot machines, here’s what to expect at the biggest, best, and most unique French casinos in France (and Monaco) for gamblers of all levels.

                    • Casino Barrière (Enghien-Les-Bain) near Paris: This is the only casino within a 100km radius of Paris offering slots, roulette, and blackjack.

                    • Casino Grand Cercle (Aix les Bains, 1824): Known for its elegant interior, this casino is located in a thermal spa town and has around 222 slot machines.

                    • Monaco: Casino de Monte Carlo (1863): One of the most stunning and oldest casinos in Monaco, featuring over 1000 slot machines and more than 56 live gaming tables.

                    • Le Casino Barrière de Deauville: This baroque-style casino in Normandy is known for its luxury and popularity as a seaside resort.

                    • Casino Pleinair Partouche (Ciotat): Europe’s first open-air casino, offering over 200 slot machines and various games on an outdoor terrace.

                    • The Imperial Palace Casino (1913, Annecy): Located on a peninsula between Lake Annecy and the Alpine Mountains, this casino offers a variety of slot machines and table games.

                    • Casino Cabourg: This is a historic casino from the 1850s, offering poker lounges, blackjack tables, slot machines, and entertainment options.

                    • Casino Arcachon (1853): Situated in a seaside resort known for oyster harvesting, this casino is housed inside the lavish Château Deganne.

                    • Grand Casino de Lyon—Pharaoh: This Egyptian-themed casino in Lyon offers a unique gaming experience with its decor and staff costumes.

                  Paris Gaming Clubs:

                    • Paris Elysées Club (15 € entrance fee)

                    • Club Barrière Paris (15 € entrance fee)

                    • Club Montmartre (10 € entrance fee)

                    • Club Circus Paris (11 € entrance fee)

                    • Imperial Club (15 € entrance fee)

                    • Club Berri (15 € entrance fee or annual membership of 150)

                    • Club Pierre Charron (Free entrance)

                  Theme parks

                  Did you know there are hundreds of theme parks and thousands of annual carnivals and fairs in France? Here are some of France’s most popular ones families love to visit. 

                  Île-de-France: Paris and Surrounding Area

                  1. Foire du Trône

                  2. La Fête des Loges

                  3. Le Jardin d’acclimatation

                  4. France Miniature

                  Upper France (Hauts-de-France)

                  5. Bagatelle

                  6. La Mer de Sable

                  7. Dennlys Parc

                  8. Parc Saint Paul

                  9. Parc Astérix

                  Nouvelle-Aquitaine

                  10. Parc du Futuroscope

                  11. Parc Le Bourant

                  Pays de la Loire

                  12. Le Puy Du Fou

                  13. Terra Botanica

                  14. Papéa Parc

                  15. Parc des minis châteaux de la Loire

                  Occitanie

                  16. Fabrikus World

                  17. Luna Park

                  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

                  18. Vulcania

                  19. Le Pal

                  20. Walibi Rhône Alpes

                  Grand Est

                  21. Nigloland

                  22. Le Parc du Petit Prince

                  23. Walygator Grand Est

                  Normandy (Normandie)

                  24. Parc Festyland

                  Provence-Alps-French Riviera (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur)

                  25. Antibes Land

                  26. Le Village Des Fous

                  27. OK Corral

                  28. Parc Spirou

                  Brittany (Bretagne)

                  29. Kingoland

                  Popular Festivals in France

                  Whether you call France your home or pass through, attending festivals is a fun way to plunge into the country’s lively culture. From seaside wine festivals and lively jazz festivals to bullfighting festivals, here are some of France’s biggest, best, and most unique festivals in June. 

                  Nimes

                  1.Easter Bullfighting Festivals (Feria Pentecost)

                    • Location: Nîmes, France & Istre

                    • When: Pentecost (moveable date but often in June)

                    • Description: Ferias centered around bull activities and bullfighting.

                  Paris

                  2. Paris Jazz Festival (Paris Jazz)

                    • When: June & July

                    • Description: Free outdoor concerts at the Parc Floral de Paris.

                  Normandy

                  3. D-Day Festival

                    • When: May to mid-June

                    • Description: Pays tribute to the Allied soldiers with various events along the coastline.

                  Brittany

                  4. La Gacilly Photo Festival

                    • Location: La Gacilly

                    • When: June to September

                    • Description: Immersive outdoor photographic experience.

                  Provence

                  5. Migration of Sheep Festival (Fête de la Transhumance)

                    • Location: Many French Provencal towns

                    • When: Late May to Jun

                  6.Opera Festival (Chorégies d’Orange)

                    • Location: Orange

                    • When: Late May to June

                  Southwest France

                  7. Bordeaux Wine Festival (fête le vin)

                    • Location: Bordeaux

                    • When: Mid-June (every two years)

                  8. Bordeaux River Festival (Fête Le Fleuve)

                    • Location: Bordeaux

                    • When: Mid-June (every two years)

                  Multiple Locations in France in June

                  9. Medieval Festival (Fête Médiévale)

                    • Location: Provins (and many towns across France)

                    • When: Late May to June

                  10. Make Music Festival (Fête De La Musique)

                    • Location: Cities across France

                    • When: June 21st

                  6. Practical Tips for a Smooth Transition

                  Adapting to French Social rules

                  The French value manners. When you enter a shop, say “Bonjour!” brightly and meaningfully. Make a little polite small talk if you are able. Then… and only then… make your request. As you leave, say “Bonne journée/Merci/au revoir”. It’s like that while getting on a bus, too. Everyone says “Bonjour” and “au revoir/bonne journée” to the driver. The older generation is susceptible and loves to grumble about rude tourists.

                  Money is never discussed, but good quality is never underestimated. Disposable fashion is very un-French. They buy the best they can afford, not to show off the label. Quality lasts.

                  Philosophy is more important than sport. Debate is a national sport.

                  French Literature embraces philosophy. Children read Le Petit Prince. Teenagers understand Camus and Satre’s version of Existentialism. They dismiss it with a sneer, as all good existentialists should.

                  The French love the French. No one else comes close.

                  France has a well-known tradition of strikes and protests to express dissatisfaction with various social injustice issues. The frequency and intensity of these strikes might be surprising, as they can occasionally disrupt public services and transportation.

                  Bureaucracy in France can be notoriously slow, often involving a substantial amount of paperwork and wait times for various administrative processes. Paperwork and red tape are tedious everywhere, but a slow bureaucracy in France is part of its charm—it’s focused on more important things.

                  Unforeseen challenges and how to deal with them

                  1. One of the foremost challenges is stepping out of one’s comfort zone. This move can be exhilarating but daunting as you leave behind the familiar faces, customs, and even the simple daily routines you’ve grown accustomed to.

                  2. The social norms in France, including the distinction between public and private spheres and the subtleties of conversation, can feel daunting. This cultural nuance is a crucial point of learning and adaptation for anyone looking to integrate fully into French society.

                  3. The challenge of mastering the French language is a journey filled with highs and lows, where reaching fluency is a milestone that might come with obstacles, such as grappling with unfamiliar sounds, syntax, and the occasional faux pas.

                  4. Administrative tasks can feel incredibly frustrating, tedious, and time-consuming. For example, many Americans do not know that if they are eligible to exchange their driver’s license in France, they must do so within their first year of residency. If they fail to meet this deadline, they will lose out on the opportunity, their American license will no longer be valid on French territory, and they’ll need to take the French driving tests. 

                  5. It’s essential for immigrants to have a support system. This should include people who understand and can empathize with what you are going through. There’s nothing better than exchanging that knowing look of camaraderie when you bring up your troubles at the French prefecture or lament the high price of peanut butter in French grocery stores. Don’t be lonely – make friends and get in touch with other expats in France. Here are forums for expats throughout France to connect:

                  6. Several things can trigger expat guilt. Guilt about not visiting, not communicating, missing out on special events, and not being there to support your family and friends during rough times. Guilt when choosing between visiting “home” and vacationing somewhere. You might feel guilty about living abroad because it might be perceived as selfish.

                  Understanding French work culture

                  Navigating the workplace in France comes with unique challenges and cultural nuances, especially for those newly arriving there. The following can serve as an essential guide for understanding the unwritten norms governing French professional environments.

                  1. Your attire should match the industry’s norms, ranging from formal in sectors like banking and legal to casual or even eccentric in startups and the arts.

                  2. Politeness is paramount in French culture. A simple “Bonjour” suffices until 6 pm, after which “Bonsoir” is appropriate. Remember, repeating a greeting to the same person in one day is frowned upon, and greetings often include a brief “ça va?” as a form of courtesy.

                  3. Despite the official 35-hour workweek, many work around 39 hours, with the extra time compensated by additional days off. Productivity is high, and for managers, long hours can be a sign of dedication, though not necessarily efficiency.

                  4. Coffee breaks are crucial for socializing and integrating into the company culture. It’s a time when informal discussions about work, local news, and personal matters occur, offering a window into the French way of life and work.

                  5. Food is a central part of French culture, and lunch breaks are an opportunity to socialize and discuss everything from cuisine to personal life. Eating at one’s desk is uncommon, if not forbidden, in many companies.

                  6. French companies tend to be hierarchical, with decisions made top-down. While some modern companies adopt a flatter structure, the traditional approach is still prevalent.

                  7. France loves its regulations, which is evident in the extensive labor laws. However, the French also value creativity in navigating these rules, especially in times of crisis.

                  8. Success is often seen as an individual achievement, even in team settings. This can influence how rewards and recognitions are distributed.

                  9. France strives for equality, but issues such as gender pay gaps and underrepresentation of women in leadership persist. Progress is ongoing.

                  10. French culture accepts and expects confrontation and emotional expression within reasonable limits. Debates and critical thinking are encouraged, but respect and professionalism must prevail.

                  11. Directness is typical in French communication, with feedback often focusing on mistakes rather than praising efforts. Understanding this approach can help mitigate misunderstandings.

                  Books and guides on French culture and living in France

                  1. Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong” by Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow: This book is a deep dive into the French culture, mindset, and history. The authors, Canadians, spent two years living in France and studying the people and their culture. It’s a great read if you want to understand the French way of life.

                  2. “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle is a delightful memoir of the author living in Provence, south of France. It’s filled with humorous and vivid descriptions of Provence’s people, food, and customs.

                  3. “The Sweet Life in Paris” by David Lebovitz: Written by a famous pastry chef who moved from San Francisco to Paris, this book offers a humorous and delicious perspective on the city of light. It’s part memoir and part cookbook, and it’s entirely delightful.

                  4. “The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography” by Graham Robb: This book provides a historical perspective on the diverse regions of France. It’s a great read if you’re interested in the history and geography of the country.

                  5. “French or Foe? Getting the Most Out of Visiting, Living and Working in France” by Polly Platt: This book offers practical advice and cultural insights for anyone planning to visit, live, or work in France.

                  7. Conclusion

                  So, if the French quality of life is calling your name, but you don’t know where to start, don’t worry—our team is here to help! Whether you need help understanding the cost of living, picking the perfect place to live, or figuring out the visa maze, we’ve got your back. 

                  There are many logistics to consider, but it’s well worth it!

                  Bonne journée!

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