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Moving to France? A Guide to French Living, An Expat’s Guide

The Basics: Visas and Relocation

When you first get to France, you’ll be allowed to stay on a tourist visa for three months. Most expats choose to take advantage of the tourist visa to visit France before they move and decide which city they’re interested in living in. If you’re planning on staying longer than three months, you’ll need to apply for a long-term tourist visa with the French embassy. Be advised that the long-term visa application will ask things like how you will provide for yourself in France and where you’re planning on working and living. It will also ask for proof of insurance, income, and marriage (if you are a married woman). You’ll have also need to undergo a physical exam at the French Immigration Office. Once all of these things are completed, you’ll receive a long-term visa, which will allow you to stay in France for one year. After that, you'll need to update the visa annually.

Finding Housing in France

There are two options when you get to France: you can either rent an apartment (furnished or unfurnished) or look into purchasing a home. Here are the pros and cons of each option:


5 of France’s Most Popular Cities

1. Paris
Paris is iconic. Known around the world as “The City of Love,” is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s also the most-visited city in the world, with upwards of 32.3 million visitors annually. Ideal for a family or individual that wants to be close to the history, art, music, culture, and culinary tradition that makes France so famous, Paris is a vibrant place that offers world-class everything. People who enjoy shopping can spend months exploring Paris’s unique, designer boutiques, concept stores, department stores, flea markets, and vintage clothing stores. Paris is one of the foremost fashion hubs of the world, so it goes without saying that clothing aficionados from near and far will find themselves with countless things to explore in this beautiful city.
Even if shopping isn't appealing, Paris has much to offer. For example, you can head to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre Dame cathedral. For striking views of the water, head to the romantic bridges that provide a path over the world-famous Seine river, or any of the other hundreds of historical and architectural treasures the city has to offer. Paris is also known around the world for its position as a leader in global art. The city boasts iconic original works of Picasso, Monet, Dali, and Van Gogh, to name a few, and new residents can spend weeks roaming the collections of the Musée d’Orsa or the Louvre.
Paris has also secured a spot for itself as one of the most iconic food cities in the world – boasting thousands of world-class restaurants, bistros, and Triple-Michelin star winning eateries designed to offer every culinary delight known to man. Paris also boasts a rich wine culture that can keep an aspiring sommelier busy for years.

2. Bordeaux
Bordeaux, among the most famous wine capitals of the world, is one of France’s most iconic and breathtakingly beautiful cities. Known primarily for its ample vineyards, Bordeaux is also one of the most historic places in all of France. In fact, 18 square kilometers of the city are listed on the Unesco World Heritage list, which grants it the title of the single largest World Heritage site in the urban world. Boasting one of France’s premier universities, Bordeaux is a vibrant place with dozens of delicious and unique food trucks, hundreds of world-class restaurants, and numberless places to drink some of the region’s wine and enjoy the company of good friends.

3. Versailles
Known predominantly for its famous Chateau de Versailles and associated gardens, Versailles is a mid-sized city that offers a distinctly glamorous feel and plenty of natural beauty to put you in touch with what it truly means to live, work, and play in the French countryside.

4. Cannes
Located on the turquoise waters of the French Rivera, Cannes is a glamorous city that’s home to one of the most famous film festivals in the world. Packed to the gills with couture shops and palaces fit for kings, Cannes has become the chosen escape destination for many of the world's celebrities. Despite its upscale nature, however, Cannes has also remained one of the most stunningly beautiful places in all of France and remains the perfect city of choice for anyone who wants to relax and enjoy the beauty of the sea or take a hike on a rugged island. Seafood is popular here, and fans of oysters and France’s other delicacies will enjoy the gastronomy in this beautiful city.

5. Lourdes
One of the world’s most critical pilgrimage sites, Lourdes is an important spiritual and cultural site for residents of France and beyond. The city’s importance exploded when a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have been visited 18 times by the Virgin Mary. These sightings were acknowledged by the Vatican, and the city has been one of the most important holy sites in the world ever since. Even though there are dozens of gift shops selling Virgin Mary-themed merchandise downtown, the hills around Lourdes is are known for their natural beauty and healing waters that people around the world come to bathe in, drink, and collect.

Moving House to France from UK

The Pros and Cons of Living in France

While France has many beautiful things, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of living in the country before you decide to move there.

The Pros

The Cons

By being aware of the pros and cons of living in France, you can ensure that you make the right decision for yourself and your family.

The Weather in France

The weather in France varies widely depending upon where in the country you choose to live. As a general rule, however, France has a temperate and moderate climate that many expats enjoy. Here’s what to expect in each region of the country:

The Decision to Move to France

While the decision to move to France is a large one, this is a country with plenty of good food, beautiful art, outstanding scenery, calming natural beauty that offers a high quality of life and plenty of exciting new experiences.


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