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Tuileries Gardens in Paris

Living in France

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 10, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees discuss what it is like to live in France: Cost of living, Finding a home, Meeting People and more.

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What do I need to know about living in France?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to France, they said:

"Check out nancy.OnVaSortir.com to find out about events that are planned by locals (and therefore not promoted by any public methods), and follow the city on Facebook to get updates about festivals and other happenings around town," remarked another expat living in Epinal, France.

"Well, firstly - great to hear that there is nothing to wait for. Just start learning some French...take few documents with yourself as France seems to like red tape very much and you need papers for everything! Take some birth certificates for sure. Don't worry about the accommodation because here in Lyon you will get many estate agencies to help you out and they speak English! And mostly...read some blogs, forums, expats websites which will provide you with the up to date info," added another expat in Lyon.

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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in France

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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How do I meet people in France?

When we asked people living in France about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"I have been nicely surprised on how big the community of expats is in France. We are lucky to have: meetup.com/cities/fr/lyon/ - smaller groups of expats who organizes meetings close to their interests onlylyon.com - very useful for info and events happening in Lyon internations.org/start, which actively organizes events for expats," remarked another expat who made the move to Lyon.

"- join the English Club, or if there is none, create one (the city hall will advertise it and provide a room to meet). I joined one and it's been great; half the people are native English speakers--so you feel at home--half are French--so you branch out and make friends with French people. Many French people are eager to join to practice and improve their English. The club organises activities, visits to restaurants, castles, etc. People in it are well travelled and cosmoplitan, many have lived in foreign countries before," explained one expat living in Moulins, France.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What is life like in France?

When we asked people living in France what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Work, socializing, sports, festivals & community celebrations in centre-ville. Lots of opportunities to be active with a climbing gym, sports halls, dance classes, martial arts clubs, etc," remarked another expat who made the move to Epinal.

"J'adore Lyon! It's an amazing place! Not only because of the history and landscape, but I especially love it because of the people. They are very authentic French! They love their city, they love their food, they enjoy life and they appreciate good quality of life. What I noticed is that they are very family oriented, they spend time together and do many activities, they care about the city and they appreciate it. They are very welcoming and helpful....and they will help you learn French as English is not popular here as in Paris ;-)," explained one expat living in Lyon, France.

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Is there a lot of crime in France?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Not more then other comparably sized cities in Europe. I find that if I stay out of the troubled areas and habits the crime does not affect me on a personal level. Know what parts of the cities to avoid," remarked another expat living in Marseille, France.

"No, fortunately there is not. However, when the fair or circus is in town/the villages round and about then it is wise to be more careful when in the garden and to make sure all windows and doors are locked," added another expat in Aude and Herault Departments.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in France accepting of differences?

"As a small town with few expats & international visitors, there is not an overtly diverse culture, but there are various religious institutions, celebrations of other culture (like "American Night" in the summer), and an organization called "EST Solidarite" dedicated to solidarity with foreigners," mentioned another expat in Epinal.

"There is no problems with this here. There are many churches different religious groups you can attend. I didn't feel any pressure but only welcomed in new communities," commented one expat who made the move to Lyon.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in France

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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What are the schools in France like?

"Please think CAREFULLY before moving your child to that school as the Group who owns currently focusing on making money not academics, bare in mind that they also own (International School of Nice (ISN), ICS (named ebica before), mainly all the International private schools in the South of France. Doesn't value the money. Low quality of teachers specially English level is a disaster for a British school. Teachers leave in the middle of the course without being replaced except with online recording videos," explained one expat living in Mougins - Cote D'Azur, France.

"If you child does not care if he/she will have friends then this is the school for you. Make sure you put on your make up and heels before leaving you house to meet any parents. Big let down at this school. I am glad we are leaving," said another parent with children at Internatioinal school of Paris in Paris.

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Is the cost of living in France high?

We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in France, they wrote:

"This of course depends widely on where you live and what luxuries you will require. To give you an good idea you can find a city centre one bedroom apartment for about 700Euro and a three course meal at a restaurant generally costs me about 50Euro. Groceries are much cheaper then restaurants of course," said another expat in Marseille.

"That all depends on the size of the accommodation, and the lifestyle of the people concerned. Many people seen on the Homes in the Sun programmes buy old, 3 storey properties out in the sticks (beautiful views but not very sensible as you get older). Stay realistic about where you will be in 5 and 10yrs. time. If you are 60 now, then stairs will be a little more difficult in 10yrs. Easy access to daily shopping and living facilities shoul be the top prioriry. If possible, have all you need within walking distance - walking is good for you and makes more sense than getting the car out to get a loaf of bread or pop to the post office for 1 letter," added another expat who made the move to Aude and Herault Departments.

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"Affordable. It's a small town, which means housing and food costs are low, but there's lots of cultural value to be had, which makes the living experience even more valuable," remarked another expat in Epinal.

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What type of recreational facilities are in France?

When we asked people living in France about recreational activities, they mentioned:

"There are several youth and culture centers (MJCs: Maisons des Jeunes et de la Culture) that offer classes and social opportunities on topics like guitar, dance, English, pottery, martial arts, etc. There is also an Olympic pool, great hiking in nearby La Bresse, and several very nice parks within the city (the city rose garden, the park that houses the castle on top of the hill)," said an expat in Epinal.

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What is the weather like in France?

"Temperate. Winters are chilly but bearable, with not much snow. Summers are lovely," mentioned another expat inEpinal.

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Are there good restaurants in France?

"Mostly typical French cuisine. A few foreign cuisines like Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese. There aren't many bars at all. The main hangout is the Irish Pub, which is really small but a fun place to enjoy a beer," said an expat in Epinal.

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Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in France?

"In the downtown area there's a MonoPrix and a Intermarche, and a bit further but still within town is a large E. LeClerq with plenty of selection, There's also a covered marketplace open on Sundays in town, where all the locals prefer to buy fresh cheese, fish, meat, produce, etc. And of course there are plenty of boulangeries for fresh bread and pastries," mentioned another expat living in Epinal.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in France?

"Carte de sejour/titre de sejour: residence card. This can be obtained through enrollment in a French university, sponsorship by an employer, marriage to a French citizen, or a few other ways. Details here https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/getting-a-visa/," commented one expat who moved to Epinal.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in France?

If you live in France, newcomers to France would love to hear your answer to this question:

If your answer relates to a specific city or town in France, please include the name of the city/town below:


"Very affordable, even before I was on the healthcare system I paid less than 100 euros for full x-rays and a cast for a broken wrist. With healthcare, it's simply covered thanks to higher taxes," commented one expat living in Epinal, France.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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