Getting Integrated when Living in France

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In this week’s article, we’d like to share with you 10 things you can do to make sure you integrate well into your new life in France. No matter what age you are, no matter what your family situation, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid isolation and give your new life in France the best chances of success. Here are our 10 favourites:

Learn French Language

There is no doubt that without a word of French, at some point or another, you’re going to feel, at best isolated and at worst completely frustrated and lost. Learning French isn’t an overnight process. It’s a complex language that’s full of rules and regulations, but if you have a real desire to integrate and you truly want to communicate, you’ll manage it. The key thing is to stick with your efforts and be confident.

Go to the Local Market

Your local market is a great place to see people and to be seen. It may be that you don’t really need anything or that you prefer to do your shopping in a supermarket, but making an effort to support and visit your local market is a great way to get to know people. It may well be that initially all you share is a brief “bonjour”, but as time progresses and your face becomes more familiar, people will make the effort to get to know you; and if they don’t, then you’ll need to make the first move.

Get to Know your Neighbours

Your neighbours are a great resource for your new life. Not only are they likely to know exactly who’s who and who does what, you might have a whole lot more in common with them than you think. Even if their “thing” isn’t your “thing” at the start, you could find yourselves sharing all sorts of new experiences that are enriching for both of you.

Get to know your Councillors

Your local Mairie is where your local councillors get together on a regular basis. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll be entitled to vote in national elections in France in the foreseeable future, you do have the right to vote in local elections, so you are important to these people, and they are important to you. Again, you’ll need to be able to speak some French to be able to achieve this, but your councillors are a great source of information about what’s happening both now and in the future in your new community.

Volunteer in your French Community

Volunteering is an excellent way to get to know people and to be appreciated by your new environment. It may be that you volunteer for something really simple like putting the tables out for a village meal or fête or you might go a step further and volunteer to read to the local school kids in English. No matter what you do, you can be sure that you’ll make friends and that your efforts will be noticed and appreciated.

Join a Sports Club

Doing a sport is a great way to meet new people who are like-minded. No matter whether you choose a team sport like football or rugby, or you decide to join a petanque club or gym, you’ll be immediately exposed to a rich and varied group of new people, some of which you’ll like and become friends with, others you’ll pass the time of day with, but no more.

Join a local association

France has a system of 1901 associations for all sorts of activities from art and culture through to sport and fitness. Joining an association, like doing a sport is the perfect key to accessing people with whom you’re likely to have lots in common.

Get a Dog

It may sound really odd, but ask anyone who’s got a dog and they’ll tell you that they’re not short of people to speak to. Dog-owners who are out and about walking their four-legged friends have a real tendency to chat to each other and more often than not, wind up in the local café drinking a coffee or two at the end of their walk.

School Friends

If you’ve got kids, get involved in school stuff. Like dogs, kids are a great passport to meeting new people. Most schools have a parent teacher association that organises events throughout the year to raise funds for school activities. While you mightn’t be ready to become a parent teacher representative, there are sure to be lots of things you could help with. This is a great way to get up close and personal with teachers and other parents alike at the same time as doing something really positive and meaningful for your kids.

Head to the Café on Market Day

Visit your local café and, or restaurants. It may sound obvious, but taking a morning coffee or lunch in your local café or restaurant is the perfect way to get noticed by the locals. You needn’t spend a fortune, but just being there, perhaps on market day, will get your face in people’s minds and might even lead to some invitations to do other things that’ll help you meet even more people.

If you’re thinking about a new life in France and would like some help to decide where to look and what to look for, get in touch.

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