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5 key points to settle in France in the best way

Survival guide to settle successfully in France

France in 10 key points

  • France is a founder member of the European Union.
  • France is the largest country in Western Europe, with an area of 633,186 km2.
  • France had a population of 67.2 million people in January 2018.
  • France is a republic. Its capital is Paris.
  • French is its official language.
  • France uses the Euro as its currency.
  • France sets the age of majority at 18 years.
  • France is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is member state of the OECD, the G8 and the G20.
  • France has a temperate climate and a varied landscape.
  • France is passionate about food, gastronomy and the art of living.

Top five French towns

Paris

  • population: 2.2 million in 2018
  • landscape: Stone buildings, often in the famous ‘Haussmann’ style. The most beautiful city in the world is situated on the River Seine, with an often trendy right bank opposite the more affluent left bank, which is also home to the students of the Latin Quarter
  • to do: Cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries, clubs, parks, theme parks and much, much more. In Paris you are spoilt for choice – there’s always something new to do. And if you want to live like a true Parisian, go out on the town from Thursday night onwards
  • taste the city! Paris is home to some of the world’s best bistros and brasseries – and the perfect place to try specialities from across France

Marseille

  • population: 862,000 in 2018
  • landscape: Haussmann buildings in the city centre and the beach just a stone's throw away so you can enjoy a dip in the Mediterranean after work
  • to do: The city is rich in culture. Add to this all the coastal activities and the surrounding region of the ‘calanques’ - an absolute must-visit
  • taste the city! Olive oil, sun-ripened vegetables, freshly-caught fish, shellfish and crustaceans… and the famous local speciality bouillabaisse – best tasted right at the port

Lyon

  • population: 516,000 in 2018
  • landscape: Close to the mountains and the sea, Lyon’s buildings are famous for their opulent yellow, orange and pink facades
  • to do: After a picnic on the banks of the Rhône, enjoy a quick tour around the mysterious traboules. Or why not check out an exhibition in the very trendy Croix Rousse neighbourhood?
  • taste the city! Lyon sausage, Pike quenelles... You're in the city of Bouchons, the famously authentic Lyon restaurants where it’s easy to eat your fill… and more

Toulouse

  • population: 475,000 in 2018
  • landscape: The ville rose (pink city) enjoys year-round sunshine, and is close to the skiing resorts of the Pyrenees
  • to do: A famous student city, Toulouse offers cinemas, intimate bars and squares which are just perfect for a pleasant stroll
  • taste the city! Toulouse is famous for its sausage and for goose or duck cassoulet

Nice

  • population: 343,000 in 2018
  • landscape: As its name suggests, Nice is lovely to look at and to live in. Located on the Mediterranean coast, it’s the ideal spot for exploring the beautiful Provence region
  • to do: The Matisse and Chagall museums, bars and squares… and nearby Cannes with its fabulous film festival
  • taste the city! Olives, salade niçoise, pissaladière (a pizza-like onion tart), daube beef stew and the pan bagnat sandwich, prefect for enjoying on the beach

Getting around in France : tools to prepare your trips

By car, train or plane, get around easily throughout France.

Getting around by car

If you have a driving licence issued by a European Union member state, it is permanently valid in France.

Driving Licences issued by non-European states are valid in France for up to one year following the start date of your first French residency permit.

Finally, holders of a student residency permit will have their foreign driving licence recognised for the entire duration of their residency.

Please note that most French autoroutes are subject to tolls, and that the maximum speed limit on the autoroute is 130 km/h (80 mph).

Getting around by train

The French railway system is connected to just about every large town in France. Railway services are operated by SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer).

For inter-city journeys the high-speed TGV now serves most major cities:

  • Paris - Marseille: 3 hours
  • Paris - Lyon: 2 hours
  • Paris - Toulouse: 4 to 5 hours
  • Paris - Nantes: 2 hours
  • Paris - Bordeaux: 2 hours
  • Paris - Lille: 1 hour

There are many good reasons to move to the provinces, even if you work in Paris. The high-speed rail network means a lot of French people have done just that. Reserve rail tickets at: www.oui.sncf

To travel to the United Kingdom, you can take the Eurostar from Paris Gare du Nord.

Reserve Eurostar tickets at: www.eurostar.com

And for travel to the rest of Europe, the Thalys service connects France

with Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne as well as other cities in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

Reserve Thalys tickets at: www.thalys.com

Getting around by plane

In France, internal flights are often cheaper than the train. The country’s international airports allow you to fly right across Europe and the rest of the world.

Major French Airports

  • Paris Charles de Gaulle (also known as Roissy Aéroport Charles de Gaulle)*
  • Paris-Orly
  • Nice Côte-d’Azur
  • Lyon-Saint Exupéry
  • Marseille-Provence
  • Toulouse-Blagnac
  • Bâle-Mulhouse
  • Bordeaux
  • Nantes-Atlantique

*Attention: Do not confuse Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport with the RER ‘A’ station Charles de Gaulle Etoile, which is situated at the top of the Champs-Elysées in Paris. They are many kilometers apart!

Taking public transportation in Paris, including the metro

You can travel anywhere in Paris by metro, with a maximum of three changes and 10 minutes’ walk connecting any two points in the city.

Numerous bus routes can also take you anywhere in the capital, and for travel to the suburbs, several RER (Réseau Express Régional) cross the Ile-de-France region.

To find out about timetables and routes, visit www.ratp.fr or the RATP app.

How to learn French ?

French has a reputation as being a particularly difficult language to learn, and for every grammar rule, there are always plenty of exceptions! But French is also the language of romance and the great philosophers of the Enlightenment.

Here are a few ideas to help start learning, improving or perfecting your French:

  • download a language training app for your smartphone or tablet
  • find a tutor by enquiring at your local town hall
  • download podcasts in French
  • watch the news on TV
  • listen to French radio on FM or the Internet
  • join French courses and workshops at l'Alliance Française

Tip

A very popular French activity is to put the world to rights over a coffee. For the true French experience, just take a seat at a café and listen!

Survival French lexicon kit

In English In French
Hello Salut
Good morning
Bonjour
Good afternoon
Bon après-midi
Good evening
Bonne soirée
Do you speak English ?
Parlez-vous anglais ?
Please
S’il-vous-plait

Thank you

Merci

I would like…

J’aimerais…

May I have the bill ?

Puis-je avoir l’addition ?

I’m lost

Je suis perdu

Where is the subway ?

Où est le métro ?

How much is this ?

Combien cela fait ?

My name is…

Je m’appelle…

Where is the bathroom ?

Où sont les toilettes ?

Survival French lexicon kit

In English Hello
In French Salut
In English Good morning
In French Bonjour
In English Good afternoon
In French Bon après-midi
In English Good evening
In French Bonne soirée
In English Do you speak English ?
In French Parlez-vous anglais ?
In English Please
In French S’il-vous-plait
In English

Thank you

In French

Merci

In English

I would like…

In French

J’aimerais…

In English

May I have the bill ?

In French

Puis-je avoir l’addition ?

In English

I’m lost

In French

Je suis perdu

In English

Where is the subway ?

In French

Où est le métro ?

In English

How much is this ?

In French

Combien cela fait ?

In English

My name is…

In French

Je m’appelle…

In English

Where is the bathroom ?

In French

Où sont les toilettes ?

Eating well in France

You will soon notice that the French share a passion for gastronomy and are proud of their country’s rich culinary heritage.

Specialities vary from region to region, and are best enjoyed with a glass of French white, red or rosé wine, the reputation of which is world-renowned.

Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health. Consume in moderation.

Healthy eating

It is relatively easy to eat a healthy and balanced diet in France, particularly thanks to the presence of markets in almost every town several days a week. There are even markets and convenience stores that only sell organic products.

Practical information

To find out the times and locations of markets in your town, visit your local town hall or look online.

You can increasingly find a large range of affordable gluten and lactose-free products, as well as vegetarian and vegan foods.

And if you prefer shopping at the supermarket or even a hypermarket, it’s good to know these are often located in semi-urban areas where the land is less expensive.

Many supermarkets and other companies allow you to shop online with drive-through or home delivery.

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