Home > Social & Culture > How to Integrate Into a French Community

How to Integrate Into a French Community

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 1 Dec 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
France French Community Friendly

The importance of integrating into your new community in France is often overlooked by new expats.There is an assumption that you will learn the language simply by virtue of living in France and that you will meet like-minded people strolling around the markets.

Unfortunately, this is not very likely.

It is more likely that you and your partner will only talk to each other most of the time, with the odd ‘merci’ to a supermarket assistant thrown in for good measure. You may overhear other English voices, but why would you become great friends with someone just because you speak to same language? Were you friends with every English speaker in the UK?

The likelihood is that the English voices you overhear are retired expats and you are young professionals, and vice versa. You may be able to say hello and enjoy a brief ‘Englishman abroad’ chat, but this is not the same as making friends with similar lives.

The truth is integrating into your new French community is hard work. Certainly hard work that pays off in time, but hard work none the less. Let us look at some ideas to reduce the stress of integrating into your new community.

Local Classes

However small your new village or town is, there is bound to be some sort of local class. There may only be a belly-dancing club on offer, but to keep in with the integration, join whatever there is. Ideally, you will find a local class in a subject that interests you so that you can meet like-minded people, but any local class is a good way to get to know your local community.

Artisans

Rather than using all expat contacts for the tasks you will require – building, plumbing, and TV installation – try using a local artisan. This may be a little more frustrating initially as you try to explain what you require, but your local community will appreciate the business. There are also potential grants and insurance benefits for using local tradesmen.

Schools

Research has shown that new expats with children find integrating into their new French community easier than their childless counterparts. This is especially true if you children are under the age of ten, as younger children tend to pick up the language and join in quicker than older children. Either way, this gives you the perfect opportunity to get to know other parents at school by chatting at the school gates, attending social events at school and getting involved in any fundraising activities.

Local Shops

Use local shops as much as possible. While there are plenty of out of town shopping centres in France as in the UK, part of the pleasure of living in France is the wonderful local produce. Why not find out where and when your local market is held and stroll down with your basket? This is just what you dreamed about for your new life in France, so let it happen rather than filling up your trolley at the supermarket. Not only will you find superior local products, but also you will get a more personal service that gives you an opportunity to pick up phrases.

Try the Language

When you move to France, do not get into the habit of asking if people speak English at every turn. French people appreciate when you try to speak French, even if you get it wrong. Indeed, it is often considered rather endearing if you make a mistake. Do not try to translate English phrases in your head and then say them in French, listen to how people talk and you will learn a more natural way of speaking.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
What is the criteria for having a mariein a village, does every village have amarie?
Taveri - 1-Dec-16 @ 8:37 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Francophile
    Re: The Role of the Mairie in France
    Le maire is the person. Le mairie is the building. Why invite visitors to France to find their own stereotypes?
    31 July 2020
  • alpbabe
    Re: Cost of Living in France
    I'm currently at the start of my journey and planning to retire in France in the next 4 years. I'm a UK passport holder but left the UK…
    4 December 2019
  • Stacey
    Re: 'Live the Dream' TV Shows & The Truth About Moving to France!
    Hi We have just had our offer accepted on a barn in France and would love to…
    3 December 2019
  • Leah
    Re: French Law, What you Need to Know Before you Move
    Hi there! I am curious about filling out the paperwork for french citizenship WITH a criminal record -…
    27 August 2019
  • stewart
    Re: French Fashion
    We are a family of two and intend to move to the Loire valley area within the next 6 months. Can anybody give us a rough estimate of the cost of…
    25 June 2019
  • henryallan1450
    Re: Cost of Living in France
    i would ask you than i wish live south of France because i do like front Sea view very much but i feel bit worried about high rentals…
    29 April 2019
  • Natalie
    Re: Making Friends in France
    Hi. I moved to France last summer and am looking to make English speaking friends or join clubs in the area. I live in Pissy-Poville, a…
    27 January 2019
  • Natalie
    Re: Resources For Expats in France
    I moved to Pissy-Poville (13 kms outside Rouen) last summer and am looking for English speaking clubs and activities - anything…
    27 January 2019
  • manulang
    Re: Making Friends in France
    Halo. I wish you can help me , i want to make friend in France
    15 November 2018
  • Juliette
    Re: Cost of Living in France
    I have lived in France since 2016 and the cost of living is very high - the utilities are ridiculous the cost of insurance , house car…
    29 August 2018