Moving to France from USA
France in brief, essential information for those considering relocation and for anyone wanting to learn something about France and the French way of life
Are you considering moving to France? The country is of course known for its wine, fine restaurants, and fashion. But there is so much more to it. France is a diverse and interesting country. Here are a few interesting things that you may not have learned about France yet.
France in the World
France is a leading member of the European Union. It is a modern, liberal republic. It has the world’s sixth largest economy. France is about the size of Texas, and has 8 land borders, and extended coasts on the Atlantic, English Chanel and the Mediterranean.
France, like most of its neighbors, uses the Euro for its currency.
A former colonial power, France maintains a certain matriarchal position amongst its former colonies. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie is roughly the French equivalent of the British Commonwealth, promoting friendship and cultural ties amongst the nations of the world’s French speakers. Many more French speakers live in Africa than in Europe.
French wine is legendary. France has many different regions, each with its distinct wines. The most famous are of course Bordeaux, Burgundy and the legendary Champagne. But France has many more distinct wine regions from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic to the Alsatian varieties coming from the Vosges, France has a great variety of wine for you to enjoy. If you love wine, Italy is close and an easy drive.
There is no one “French”. It seems like in the United States, regional English is going away, and accents and terminology are becoming pretty much standard across the country. However, in France dialects and accents are going as strong as ever. While someone from Alsace will probably be able to understand someone from Languedoc, their languages are far more divergent than the English of Americans. Alsatians speak a dialect similar to Swiss German in addition to French. Unless you’re a French native, the chances are that you have learned to speak Parisian French. Once you move to France, we hope that you will enjoy travelling around the country, enjoying not only the different regional wines, but also the different regional French.
If you are considering moving to France, you have to learn French. You do not want to get along in English in the country. French culture is very different than American culture. Their humor is different, their drama is different. Don’t expect to understand French books translated into English. Learn the French.
France is the most visited country in the world. Tourism is a very big industry, accounting for 10% of the nation’s income. The tourism industry consists of both domestic and international tourists. Though Paris is naturally the primary destination for foreign tourists, you can expect to see tourists in locations throughout the country.
While urban France is about the pinnacle of modernity, the French country side is surprisingly rural, and if not primitive, than it is at least quaint. Even compared to American “small towns” there lots of villages and hamlets throughout the country. Some of the best restaurants in the world are in these small locations.
If you are moving to France, enjoy driving around the country and seeing the many small cities that make the country so interesting.
In America there used to be a tradition of markets in the town square. Though shopping malls long ago took their place, farmers markets are trying to revive this custom. In France, traditional markets need no revival, as they never went away. Even though you can find markets in major cities, you should visit markets in small towns. In Paris you will find many things intended for tourists, in rural France you will find all sorts of goods. When there is no mall in town, everything is bought at the market.
Expect to see the locals playing a round of petanque or a boules competition across the street from the market.
Religion in France
While most of France is nominally Catholic, most of them do not attend church on a regular basis. While the country is also famously secular, some facets of religious life remain as strong as ever. Expect most places to be closed on Sundays, including museums, almost all shops and even many restaurants. Especially if you are traveling especially to a rural restaurant, they may be closed on a Sunday. Make sure that your destination is open before you plan on going. Those restaurants that are open Sundays will typically be closed on Mondays.
However, Sunday is a great day to visit a church, including some of the country’s historical cathederals.
France is full of museums and historic monuments. While everyone has heard of The Louvre, home to the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and some of the world’s most iconic works of art, there are many more museums to see in the country. Please be advised that even though many of the most popular museums do not require reservations, at times it might be very difficult to enter without one.
You will find historic monuments throughout France. Some date from Roman times and even before, up until modern monuments.
Frenchmen love their sports, but in a very different way than they do in America. It isn’t only a question of like football instead of American football. They like it differently. Do not expect to see people walking around with FC Nantes gear, but if the national team is playing, little more will happen in the country that day. France has won the world cup and European championships many times, and the events are national events.
Of course the French love tennis, and the Rolland Garros, or French Open, is one of the world’s four grand slam tournaments.
The French also love many sports that are considered esoteric in the United States. While cycling is a very popular sport in the United States, it isn’t a spectator sport. Not so in France, as the Tour de France is the world’s premiere cycling event, inspiring events like the Giro d’Italia and multi stage competitions around the world.
If you enjoy motor racing, you will find that French motor racing is different, but just as fun as the American versions. The name Le Mans is synonymous with endurance motor racing. Grand prix, is, of course, a French phrase.
Winter sports are big in France. Either as a spectator or a participant, winter sports abounds in France. With superior skiing available in both the Alps and the Pyrenees, you can enjoy long and exciting winter sport seasons. With many more results available in Switzerland, Italy and Spain very close by, you can visit a different result each time. If you are moving to France, don’t forget to bring your ski gear with you.
Flying around the continent
If you like to travel, France is well served by many low cost airlines. If you want to visit the UK, you can also go by train or ferry. Unlike most international flights, you can usually find the best deals directly from the websites of the low cost airlines and not from sites like Expedia or Kayak. Almost every country in Europe will have at least one low cost airline with direct flights to France.
Living in France will be a lot of fun. Embrace your new home.