My wife and I are moving to France with our two young sons ...
I’m writing from Canada and looking for advice regarding a move to France that my wife and I are planning for June of 2007. We, with our two sons (7 and 5) have been discussing a temporary move to France for quite some time. We’re motivated in the main by the opportunity to expose our sons to another culture, and because the both of us are francophiles and it is a dream to live in France. All four of us are bilingual, and my wife and I are self-employed, so our main concerns are not about employment, but rather where it might be best for us to settle. We have Paris in mind, but we know how unrealistic that is. We’ve been talking about Montpellier and Marseilles as well, but neither of us have ever seen these places. Ideally, we’d like to be, if not in Paris, then a mid-sized city, somewhere safe, with good access to the rest of the country. We’re interested in hearing from people concerning underrated spots in France, places maybe a little less known, but fantastic. Also, advice on housing (we’re planning on swapping, if at all possible, and we’d like to be in France for two years), any issues you may be aware of in getting our sons into a school, and other possible snags it’d be good for us to foresee. Note that I am likely to have EEC before we go does it help much? Many thanks for reading this far and lending us your expertise. Michael
Well, Michael I don’t know too much about living in Paris but from my travels and understanding of geography, but since France is star shaped that you can travel anywhere in France from tip to tip in less that a day by car. My suggestion is that you and your wife tour France by train and visit many cities to get a feel for what places feels most like home to you. Also maybe living near a major rail line like a eurostar line then you would be able to get to London quickly for a break or to the center of Paris for a day trip.
Be well, MP
Well, Michael, like yourselves I am Canadian and I just recently moved to Paris. As you already seem to know, living in the city of Paris is very difficult to afford. And with children, it doesnt seem to be very practical. I currently work in Levallois (east of Paris) and it is very safe and in fact is known to have many foreign residents (americans mostly), as a result, has good schools/hospitals, etc. However, it is very modern and sometimes appears you are living in present-day American. Most of my French colleagues live in this city. It is very close to Paris. I live in central Paris and the public transportation here is amazing, you do not need to own a car at all. Whenever I want to travel outside of Paris, I would simply rent a car. Driving here is a bit crazy anyways.
I can't tell you just how difficult it is to rent a place here. You need to pay 2-3 months in advance and have a guarantor... kinda like having your parents co-sign a loan, in this case, probably an employer that can vouch for you. Unfurnished apartments have ZERO appliances. I had to buy my own fridge, washer/dryer, oven... some places have stove tops already.
To get anything done is a hassle, the notorious French efficiency. HOWEVER, once you get settled in, like I was after only 6 months, living in Paris is amazing.
Please let me know if you have any specific questions.
I'd recommend Lyon. After living there for a year as a Canadian exchange student, it's definately a place that might appeal to you and your family. It's tied with Marseille as France's second largest city (after Paris, of course) and it definately has a more family-friendly atmosphere. It's also well known for being the gastronomic capital of France, which means tons of really great restaurants. It's relatively safe and the cost of living there is not as high as Paris. There are lots of cultural, artistic and educational things to do. And with its close proximity to the Alps, there are tons of sports activities that your family could enjoy. I'd recommend Sunday outings at the Parc de la Tête D'Or. Anyways, I hope this helps. Good luck with your move.
Comme vous avez decrit Paris est une tres belle ville mais aussi belle que chere...
Je n'aime pas trop Marseille car c'est l'opposé culturelle de la France... Mon top three serait:
1. Bordeaux, belle, ensoleillée et avec un bon rapport calité / cout de vie
2. Normandie, tranquille, un peu plus froide, voisine a Paris
3. Lyon, une ville interesant aussi bien economique et socialement. Très recommandé pour des familles avec des enfants.
Hey, what about Avignon? It's not as metropolitan as Paris, but it's a great city and the countryside in that area is fantastic-- like the "French Tuscany." I know lately it's become very popular with "foreigners," but there is also a sense of keeping things very traditional. The housing turnover there is like an average of five years, so you might find things a little expensive but you will also probably have a lot to choose from and everything is kept up very well and to a high standard.
i live in toulon which is near marseille and it's really lovely weather. i don't particularly like big cities but that's probably cos i'm used to living here but i think any city in the côte d'azur is really lovely. Marseille is full of shops and stuff and there's the TGV which can get you to Paris in 4 hours so you'll be close to everywhere. I think the south west is probably where there are the least roads but you'll never be totally lost in the middle of nowhere. afterwards if you don't mind big towns lyon and marseille are nice places. It's just about as hot in the summer so it's probably a bit nicer in marseille because there's the sea right next to it and the climate is a bit heavier because it's more continental but it's a question of taste.
Marseille is the second largest city but i you count the suburbs then lyon is the largest. i do recommend you checking bost cities first. If you do like Paris this much, remember with the train it's very easy to spend your weekend there, go to disneyland and such for the kids, go shopping. Otherwise, i know that around marseille is really lovely and you can get in the town very easily, i live about 45 minutes away and there's no problem to catch a plane or a train.
hope it'll have helped you
Something else to keep in mind if you're leaving the Paris area - everything tends to be in French, dubbed movies, schools, book stores etc. If that doesn't hold you up, my personal favorite would be the south west coast - Bayonne area. That said, Paris is quite a nice place to live...
You may want to consider renting a furnished flat - perhaps more expensive, but no problems with appliances/furniture etc.
Where will you send the kids to school? Most expats I know have choosen private
Years ago I studied in France on a Rotary International Scholarship. First stop was a week of vacation in Paris, then a month in Tours to polish the French I had learned at university in Texas. My recollection of Tours is that it was much less intimidating than Paris, and populated by folks who were generally frliendlier than their Parisian countrymen. It was a pleasant size - not too large and "city-ish" but large enough to have everything you need. Plus, it was only about an hour by train to Paris. The Touraine region is known for its perfect spoken French, so that's why my professors thought it would be the best place for me to study before heading on to the University of Lyon. That fact meant two things that might be important for you - first, the language schools draw a lot of foreigners, which bring a lot of revenue, so foreigners are generally welcomed here (which doesn't seem to be true all over France), and second, the language spoken here is supposed to be the truest form of French, so it may be closer to the French you know and speak. Being a Texan, I can't say this from personal experience, but in my language studies both here and abroad, I was always told that people from Canada speak a purer form of French than many natives of France because the language has evolved differently in different places. By contrast, I found Lyon to be much too "big city" and modern for my taste. I was there longer than I was in Tours, but my memories of Lyon are not as fond, though as one previous post mentioned, I also found the Parc de la Tête D'Or a wonderful place to de-stress.
has good info on Tours, as of course does the city's official website
I'd have to really echo the suggestion about Avignon. We rented a house in Port Royal, just a bit SE of Avignon. It's an abosutely delightful region with easy day trips to many interesting cities and sites. We visited the Carmargue, Orange, Aigues-Mortes, Nimes, Pont du Gard, etc...
Paris is great if you have plenty of money! Of the other places you mention Montpellier is one of the most beautiful cities in France. It has easy access to the rest of France with the TGV ( high speed trains .) and within the town there's a great tramway system.
Here's a site that may be of use to you: France Guide
- It's got info, maps and photo's etc. for Montpellier and Marseilles as well as other less known towns in France.
Hi, bonjour, If you're bilingual that will make it a lot easier. Have you considered living in a rural area? cheap housing, fresh air, peace and quiet... only 3 hours south of Paris by motorway. I'm advertising for my area, of course! See http://berryhobby.blogspot.com This is my pottery blog. You can find links on it for info about the region.
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