Settling into a new area takes time, but there are plenty of ways to make friends and intergrate into your French community. We bring you 5 ways to make friends in France
If you have time and experience, or are willing to be trained, then working just a few hours a week as a volunteer can be highly rewarding. From running youth sports clubs to helping at local historic tourist attractions, there will be something that suits your interests. For anyone seeking a real challenge, most of the country’s fire service (pompiers) is made up of volunteers. Ask at the mairie for details.
2. Join a club or association
Ask your neighbours, or at the mairie, about associations in your area. When expat Judith Munns and her husband moved to Dordogne in 2006, they discovered the Association Culturelle Franco-Anglaise d’Aquitaine. “It helped us to integrate quickly, as they have clubs and courses including language learning, art, photography, cookery, bridge, genealogy, and gardening, as well as a choir (above). All the groups are enjoyed by both English and French alike and I have made some great French friends.”
3. Start a club
If you’re keen to give something back to the community and have a skill in a certain area, why not consider starting a club? Drôme-based writer Jean Gill runs a creative writing workshop in the village bookshop. “It has been my way of contributing to the community and has definitely helped me integrate,” she says.
4. Get online
It seems strange that sitting at the keyboard in solitude can help you make friends but it’s true – for many, the internet is a vital link to the outside world. Social websites such as www.expatdatingfrance.com and www.onvasortir.com help like-minded people meet up (and not just for romance!). If you’re moving to France on your own, these sites can help you reach out to others in the same boat. Many expats turn to forums for advice from those who’ve been there and done it. Visit our France forum.
5. Become a councillor
If you really want to get to the heart of your community, consider standing as a councillor. Cathy Henton, who runs a wine tours business, Le Tasting Room, in the Loire Valley recently became a conseillère municipale. “In the short time since being elected I’ve been asked to assist with a gay marriage, attend the primary school’s English breakfast and serve the oldest members of the community lunch while entertaining them (or not) with my rendition of Yesterday,” she says. “It’s a two-way exchange – I approach things from a different perspective, which they find a breath of fresh air and I too am learning about the way the community operates on a level I never thought possible.”