Moving to a new country can be daunting and feel lonely, but follow our tried and tested tips for making new friends in France and your social calendar will soon be packed
Get out and about
Make sure you shop at your local stores and markets as well as the big supermarkets and visit the local cafes, bars and restaurants. Be friendly with the waiters and owners and chat to other shoppers/diners and you could soon have friends for life (and your favourite type of baguette waiting for you every morning!).
Meet your neighbours
Go for a stroll around your village and say ‘bonjour’ to your new neighbours and people you meet and you will soon strike up conversations. If you’re feeling brave then invite your new neighbours round for an aperitif or dinner – it’s always useful to be on good terms with your neighbours and hopefully they return the favour and introduce you to their friendship circle. This is also a great way to improve your language skills.
Join a club
Ask your neighbours, at the mairie and look online for clubs and associations in your area – you will soon find one that suits your interests and this is a great way to meet like-minded people. Kate Stear moved to Charente a year ago and has quickly found a number of clubs to attend: “Since I arrived last July I have met some lovely people who enjoy similar activities to those I enjoy. In my immediate area alone there is a gardening club, a sewing club, an indoor bowls group, a writing group, a book club, a walking group and there are various workshops offered to learn new skills. My husband joined a group of amateur beekeepers to learn what is required in order to keep bees and enjoy some locally produced honey!”
Working a few hours a week as a volunteer can be highly rewarding and a great way to make new friends. There are many charitable organisations to get involved in, from local sports clubs, historic tourist attractions and animal shelters to local fundraising events. Expat Kate Stear says: “I am involved with Cancer Support France, a national charity that offers support to the English-speaking community in France. Our branch, Charente Plus, is busy raising funds to train active listeners and purchase equipment for the local hospital. At the end of the summer, we held a boot sale hosted by one of our members. It was a warm, sunny day and the local English-speaking community came out to support us by buying books and cakes that had been baked by our members. We had a tombola with prizes donated by our kind supporters. A very successful day for the charity and some new friendships were made too.”
Connect with other parents
If you have children then join in with local groups and school activities to meet other parents. Take your kids to swimming sessions, reading groups or sports clubs and consider joining the Association des parents d’élèves, the equivalent of a parent and teacher association in the UK, to help organise events and go on school trips. Encourage your kids to invite their new friends round and maybe suggest outings with the children and parents.
There are plenty of online social networks that can help you meet other people. Try joining Facebook groups focused on your local area to find out about events and connect with people or try expat forums and websites to speak to other people who have moved to France and get their advice.