Moving to France?
Updated: Mar 24, 2019
Moving house is always a pain, moving to another country is even more difficult. So, I thought I'd piece together some useful bits that might come in handy if you're planning a move to France...
Need to know numbers:
Fire: 18 (they also handle medical emergencies)
Ambulance: 15 (also for urgent medical call outs)
Universal emergency number for Europe: 112
British Embassy (Paris) : 01 44 51 31 00 - French numbers are always given in pairs e.g zéro un, quarante et quatre, cinquante et un, trente et un, double zéro.
It is well worth signing up for a loyalty card with your local supermarket/s. They each work in slightly different ways but most are on a point system (like a boots card,) where you earn points per purchase that then add up over time, into 'real money' to take off your shop. You also get discounts on certain products in store with a loyalty card.
The well-known supermarkets:
Mobile Phone Services:
If you live in Europe your phone will already be using a GSM network and so you should be able to use it as normal in France. However, you should consider changing your sim, so as to receive a French number, if your plan doesn't include international calls.
The well-known phone companies:
If you live in a 'non-dégroupée' or 'dégroupage partiel' zone you must first set up your telephone line with France Télécom, before contacting broadband providers. However, be advised this can take a loooong time. I'm with Orange and highly recommend, when I had an issue with my ligne optiqué, they came out within 48hrs - for free!
The well-known broadband providers are:
Basically, exactly the same as the popular mobile phone companies!
Does anyone use a landline nowadays? For those that do...
If you live in a 'dégroupage total' zone, you can go through any provider for a phone line, without paying the France Télécom subscription fee. Although it can be more unreliable to not got through France Télécom. This is due to However, if you live in a 'non-dégroupée' or 'dégroupage partiel' you have to go through France Télécom. With France Télécom, you must pay a one off subscription fee, and you then get billed for individual phone calls.
For more information you can ring 3000 to talk to an agent or 1014 for customer service (within France) and they also have a website in English.
Finding a Flat:
If you're looking for a flat in Paris, there are so many agencies, and they all charge ridiculous one-off fees (two months rent usually) as a sort of 'finders' fee, so I don't recommend! I also would avoid central Paris rentals, they are cheap but for a reason - my apartment was infested with mice and there were plumbing issues that flooded the apartment, making the plaster on the ceiling below fall down, and took two weeks to fix! They also kept 200€ of my deposit for getting a key cut (mine was stolen) and offered no receipt!
However, horror stories aside, you can find some beautiful apartments! My current apartment I found via airbnb, although we signed a contract outside of this for a long term lease. Websites to look on are: seloger.com, leboncoin.fr, appartager.com, PAP.fr - some of these are set up for colocations rather than living alone, and there are also many, many facebook groups for colocations and apartment hunting. Most of my friends have found their apartments through word of mouth, and it's so easy to get disheartened flat hunting, but persevere, ask around people at work, your friends, even your local cashier! Also, check out the bulletin boards at the American Church of Paris and Shakespeare and Co. these are especially helpful if your French isn't quite there yet, as many advertisements are in English!
When you do find a place, be sure to look around it in person and have all the necessary documentation ready so you can nab it straight away (the normal rule with landlords is first come first served!) Apartments do go quickly, but new apartments also pop up quickly too! The documentation (called a 'dossier' in France) that you'll need is your passport and visa (if necessary), normally 3 months payslips or a job contract with your salary written on and a signed letter from your guarantor with their payslips.
Sometimes Landlords will be a pain about you having a guarantor who lives in France, which if you've only just moved and don't know anyone can be so daunting! Fear not, many banks offer to act as a guarantor for young professionals and students, or your company may be willing to do it for you! For an insight into French banks and how setting one up works have a look at my blog post here.
Finally, If you're only in Paris for a few months, it might be more practical (and cheaper) to rent a 'foyer', which is basically a French hall of residence, have a look on CIUP.fr
Most of all, enjoy it! Go out, make new friends, sign up to sports clubs and activities, visit all the bars, galleries, museums, theatres and explore your new home!