CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

How to quickly integrate into French life

PUBLISHED: 12:15 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:26 14 November 2017

How to quickly integrate into French life © Ridofranz Thinkstockphotos

How to quickly integrate into French life © Ridofranz Thinkstockphotos


It can take some time to find your feet after moving somewhere new but follow these tips and you’ll soon be fully integrated and feel right at home in France

1. Learn the language

Wherever you go, whatever the occasion, the key to getting on and having a good time is communication, and communicating usually involves talking. So, being able to converse with the local people is probably one of the most important routes to integration. You’ll pick up the language faster once you’re living in France, but it’s definitely a good idea to give yourself a head start by taking lessons in the months, if not years, before making the leap across the Channel.

If you need to hit the ground running as soon as you arrive, for example if you need to be able to express yourself sufficiently well in French to get a job, then aim for greater immersion in the language for a sustained period prior to moving. Tune into French radio and television, follow additional online courses, try to find a French language ‘buddy’ happy to meet up for French/English conversation exchanges (or via Skype), and try to read a little in French. If you are able to expose yourself to the language in some form or other every day, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.


Help with learning French:

Learning French: 6 tips for beginners

Ways you can learn French for free


2. Join a club

If you play a sport or enjoy a hobby, pursue it in France if possible. Doing an activity with others who share the same passion or interest is one of the best ways to make friends, and often it’s a more relaxing way to get involved in the local community because the language side of things can take second place as you’re ‘communicating’ in other ways.

3. Attend local events

Going along to local events shows your interest in the community and willingness to get involved. The conviviality of the occasion will soften any preconceptions (if there are any) and conquer any mutual shyness as the wine and beer flows, plus it’s a way to meet a lot of people in one go. Offers of help with events are usually very welcome, so this is another way to get more involved – and more popular! Further down the line, you could join the Comité des Fêtes, thereby cementing your commitment to the local social life.


Don’t miss

10 things you need to know about French etiquette

Why is it important to make friends with your neighbours?


4. Socialise with your colleagues

The workplace in France is more formal than in the UK and in general there is less socialising with colleagues. That said, you will usually meet one or two people that you get on well with and with whom, over time, a friendship outside work could develop.

Aside from making friends, if you work in a French company, surrounded mostly be French people, you will pick up the language, the culture, the humour and the politics (with a small ‘p’) of the country much quicker. In short, the integration process is accelerated. There is also the advantage that you are seen to be embracing the French system, in terms of contributing to the economy and ‘doing your bit’, which in a predominantly socialist-thinking society is an important factor.

5. Get involved with your kids’ school

If you have children of school age, there’s no doubt this opens another door to meeting people and becoming a part of the local community. Take every chance to exchange with other parents at the school gate and at the various events (there is nearly always an annual bingo called the loto and an end of year concert or play). Depending on where you live, you could also consider sharing the school run with neighbours, as this again can strengthen ties as well as having practical benefits.

After a little while, and if your French is up to it, consider standing as a parents’ representative or joining the ‘Sou des écoles’ (school fundraising committee). This can bring you into contact with more parents as well as representatives from the local mairie, plus it will give you a greater insight into the French education system.


Don’t miss

5 things I learned when my children started French school

How to make new friends when you move to France


6. Meet your neighbours

Make the effort to introduce yourself to your neighbours on arrival – they can be a valuable source of information when you’re first in the country and, if you’re lucky, will help introduce you to others in the community. The Fête des Voisins has become a popular annual occasion across France, as in many other countries, and is a great way to foster and maintain good relations between neighbours, both old and new.

7. Get to know your adopted country

The more you get to know about France, the more you will be able to participate in society. When living in your home country, it’s easy to forget how much knowledge and understanding of that country has been acquired over the years, from learning British history in school, to recognising regional and social differences in society, to following current affairs. All of this information feeds almost subconsciously into our daily conversations, choices and actions.

It will be difficult to assimilate this level of knowledge about France, certainly not for many years. But if you try to address the basics (if you apply for French citizenship at any stage, you’ll be required to), it could go a long way to helping the integration process along. So, why not read up a little about the French Republic, get into the habit of following French current affairs, and, if possible, take a few trips and holidays within France to get to know the regions and the diverse traditions and culture. It will open up new horizons when mixing with French people.

Like this? You might enjoy:

11 things to do before you move to France

How many times should you kiss in France

More from Living in France

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The quality of family life in France is one of the reasons why expats rate the country so highly when asked how they feel about their lives overseas, according to a new study

Read more
Expats in France
Monday, October 8, 2018

When Jacalyn Burke left the UK for New York, little did she know that she would meet her long-term partner Kate Fitzgerald and that they would buy their first home together in France. Jacalyn tells us how they made it happen and why they love life in Charente-Maritime

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

With a little thought and some careful planning, you can stretch your budget and make sure you don’t waste a single penny. Here are 9 ways to save money in your French home and have more to spend on enjoying life in France

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Relocating to France? Make sure you prepare these 6 things before the big move to your French property

Read more
Expats in France
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thinking of setting up a campsite in France? Here’s what you’ll need to consider when it comes to planning permission.

Read more
Friday, April 6, 2018

Understand the home-sharing website Airbnb, including the latest French rules, and follow our top tips for using it to rent out your property in France

Read more
Running a business
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

With its unbeatable wine and cheese and laissez-faire attitude, there’s nowhere better to retire than France. But which cities are best for growing old in? Here’s the top 10

Read more
Pays de la Loire
Thursday, January 25, 2018

If you are buying in or moving to France you will need a French bank account but before you open one make sure you read these 11 things you need to know to avoid making a costly mistake

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

France might be experiencing a shortage of general practitioners but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a GP willing to take on new patients. Here’s what you need to know about finding and registering with a doctor when you move to France

Read more
Expats in France
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The French pharmacy is so much more tham a place to pick up your prescriptions. Here are 11 things you might not know about pharmacies in France.

Read more
Healthcare in France
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now