Learning the Language Before You Move
In order to really make the most of your new life in France, it is a good idea to try to learn as much of the language before you move.
Many new expats are shocked to realise quite how little French language they actually know when they arrive in France - most people remember being pretty good at French at school and have fond memories of buying beer and patisserie on holiday. The reality, however, is completely different. While you may be able to make yourself understood in a shop, do you know what the assistant is saying back to you? This is the biggest shock when you move to France - you are not prepared for the speed in which people talk and the fact that they sound nothing like those French Oral lessons you remember!
You will also need to consider that different areas of France have very different accents - just like the UK. Snooty Parisienne's like to say that they cannot understand anyone from the south! So you may find that how you learnt certain words at school is rather different in practice. For example, in the Languedoc, the 'e' at the end of many words is very strongly pronounced, whereas further north this is not the case.
It is also worth noting that your French will improve rapidly when you arrive and start imbibing yourself in French life, however, your language skills will be at their worst at the beginning of your adventure - exactly the time that you need to sort out all sorts of practical things like telephone lines, car insurance and medical care.
By learning as much French as possible before you arrive, you will be able to minimise the issues of integration and paperwork problems and you will also have more confidence in chatting to your new neighbours.
There are a number of ways to develop your language, here are some suggestions.