Life in France


My name is Larri-ann and I will be living in Versailles soon. I want to know what life is like in France, especially areas such as Paris and Versailles.

Thank you.

I've been living in France for nine years, originally from Portland, OR. As a generally friendly, outgoing person living in a small village, I've found making connections to be very difficult. Open kindness is very often misunderstood as an attempt to arnaque (scam) or something more 'romantic'.

Hello Larri-ann. I cannot offer a lot of advice about Versaille and Paris since I live in the south of France but having visited several times I will say one of the things that is difficult is driving, especially in Paris. Use public transport when possible. The traffic jams are horrendous! I was just there last week and even though to a Parisian there is "no one" there since most people are on vacation July and August it was unbearable. I also agree with lotuselisel about making connections, but being in Paris there are more expats and other foreigners where it may be easier.

Do you speak French?  If not, it would be a good idea to learn, otherwise you'll be left out of pretty much everything - and people will just use you to perfect their English.

Are you going to work or school?  Each situation is different.

Sorry, your question is too broad, so it's not really possible to give you any more information than this.

Hello, I live in Paris for about 9 months . I find the city very beautiful but the live here is a little bit expensive. Public transport is OK but not when is the rush hours. At first i was very upset because people here are racist but in time you just get over it. IF you know french and have experience in something (meaning for work) you can easily adapt here. An other problem is the rent , expensive and hard to find without paper work and recommendation. Good luck !

Thank you.

'Racist'? Please continue.

Did u have thé same racist problem @lotuselisel?

Thank you for your reply. I will be working and I do speak a little French. I just really need to know about thé cost of living and what thé people are like in Versailles.

I have traveled the world a lot and love to. It's probably my biggest passion.         Nothing pleases me more than experiencing other cultures. However, I find that when people don't fit in to a new culture, it's very easy to call them 'racist'. Are you asking if I have racist issues because I'm white?

Please correct me if I've misunderstood your question.

I see now that I misunderstood your question. Yes. 'Racist' is not the issue. The fact that I'm American makes me an alien. In some ways it frees me of the blabla, however, it has also been the source of aggression. Yes. I think I see what you mean now. But this is a very long conversation.

Lol yes you are white. I mean if you have thé same views from a 'white' perspective

You all have been so kind with your information. Thank you.
I must say that I am a little worried with thé racist thing. I mean i love people i love diférent cultures however I am aware how black people are treated.
I am truely excited about working in Versailles. I am looking forward to thé food even though I am a tropical girl and I love my spices (very spicy food) I am looking forward to trying new food. I am mostly excited about thé train ride, believe it or not, because in my country we do not have a train system lol so I am excited about that.

Larri-ann, we should chat. It's SO easy to say the difficulties you're experiencing are because of race. The fact is, you are not 'French' and neither am I. WE are aliens. NOT because of skin color, or food preference or language. The fact is, the way we think is 100% different than French. I have many French friends who tell me exactly this.

Hi Larri-Ann,
It is my pleasure (of course if you allow me) to share with you my experience since I changed cities almost four times during my entire career :) but not less than five years in a place :) all the cities I had lived in (in the Emirates; Sila, Alain, and Dubai ) spoke my language (Arabic ) and I could of course communicate in English there :).
the culture was somehow similar. However, two years ago I was assigned to a job here in France, Lyon.
And here, neither the language nor the culture matches :) ...I can communicate in English and Arabic, but never in my life have I learnt French ...
Anyway, during the first year I was totally isolated from workmates and society around me...some speak English but the majority use French :) normal...we are in France :)
Until one day a friend of mine helped me to take that decision and start learning French every day...I joined one of the public libraries here and brought books on the language with CDs and taught myself....I also started to make my house more comfortable to me..however, I believe that the most helpful part were my friends here...they were so supportive and helpful to the extend that I started to doubt whether racism is a problem here or will find racism here only if you look for it...if you like people and act positively...and try to forget about negativities, I am sure you won't be seeing them...:)
Use the Internet to see new people go out with locals and expose yourself to the language as much as possible
Life now to me here has a meaning ..a more productive advice is to try to find this productive path as soon as you arrive :)
I am sure you will be finding it quite quicker than me :)
Good luck

Hello and a huge welcome.
I used to live in Paris for a number of years and I love the city.
I know a lot of people say the Parisians are rude and brash but thats the same in any major city in the world.
The truth of the matter is if you do not try to fit in you will be treated as an outsider. Especially when trying to communicate, a fundamental rule is always try to communicate in French, they will always be more amenable to help you than if you insist on speaking English.
It does not matter if you get the grammar all wrong that will come later just try and make yourself understood in French.

Paris is a beautiful city and I often used to sit out side the cafe with my bread, cheese and a glass of red wine watching the artists at the Sacre Coeur or wander along the banks of the Seine.

Young or old there is a ton to see and do.

Once you get the hang of the Metro its easy to get about.

You will love it.

I love Ahmed's response from Lyon. You'll have to learn French. And stumble around making tons of mistakes but the French will love your efforts and applaud you and help you.

Dear Lotuselisel, ( and I hope I've spelled that right...?)

Small town girl here and formerly. When I first moved here a whopping 34 years ago, I found that making eye contact with people can be hugely misconstrued.

We North Americans tend to say " hi, how are you doing today?" To complete strangers if we happen to accidentally cross gaze paths with them. You do that once on the street as a 21 year old woman and I guarantee you'll have men stop dead in their tracks turn around and try to buy you coffee, dinner, drinks and much much much more. I learned very quickly when on the street in Paris to not notice people. To the extent that someone I did know had to actually shout my full name down the street at me to get my attention.

Small towns here are much easier to navigate. Hello to someone you've seen before is fine. Or when in doubt in a small town here,  a smile carries the day. But then again, I'm old now and not appearing predatory when I smile at anyone. Age does have its benefits.

Come out to Normandy and see how other small townies get along!

Hello Larri-Ann,

Welcome to Paris Area, of course France is a well-groomed place , since the govt budgets to enhance "tourism" is HUGE compared to other cities in the world !
After this basic fact , comes the life here.
You said you are planning to live in Versailles, the city with the 3chateau de Versailles"  a must be seen monument.
But I would warn you that you are going to live in one the costliest area for French people. and hence, you may just crash on a wall of disregard from those french people who have "upgraded" to live in this city. moreover this is not a city for Young , young-minded people.
And what to say about the french psychology , specially in these days of one terror attack/month (publicized or not) !
It is clear that nowadays French people have become scared of anything "not-French" if you see what I mean.
France has been a Colonialist-thinking country for these last 4 centuries, and only these last days, (by the favor of discovering terror acts they sow abroad, are brought back home)  French people are realizing that because of GLOBALIZATION, they now fell to the same status as the ethnics they used to see as second class human beings !
This belief and behaving is mostly due to that special characteristic of the genuine French people : "Schizophrenic". if you understand thoroughly this word , half job is done: you will understand nearly everything you see and experience here !
so simple !!! so good luck to you !
Now the train system is fantastic to discover all the Paris and suburban area; for 73 €/month, you can afford a pass called "NAVIGO",  and visiting 24h/24, 7D/7, the "most beautiful sights, monuments and museums" concentrated in the smallest possible area ! Unthinkable elsewhere in this planet !!!
For spicy food : go to subway station "Gare du Nord " (little India) , or " Belleville" (little China) !
Wishing you an enjoyable stay here !

Hi Diane,

Thanks for your post. I'm from a small farm town of 3600 people called Mount Angel in Oregon. Then military, stationed in Las Vegas and for the past nine years, France. It's a HUGE cultural difference living here. One of my friends visited from the US and on his first day he asked me, 'Why does everyone look so's like the walking dead.' Yes, I'm generally used to friendly people and being friendly, which just doesn't translate here.

I've heard Britany is nice and hope to visit there soon. I lived in Lille for almost a year and the environment was a bit more friendly there. Now living in a bourgeois village and it's SOOO superficial. All about the weather and next vacation.

Take care,

Thank you @Annbou

Thanks @Lindmann

Thank you @Ahmed

Hello Larri-ann!
I am a filipino and I am living in Paris almost a year.I can tell you that it is really nice to live in Paris.You know, it could be very complicated using the language because even if you we're studying the grammar, the pronounciation is really quite difficult to express ...😉😉😉
But you can cope because the weather is very fair not that very cold during the winter.

Hi there!
I willl be moving in Lille too from Paris. Beginning next month I will be walking in my adventure of my in Lille,France and I am very excited to doscover new things around there in the North part of the country.
I was viewing the place personally at first week of July and I lovin' it.

Lille is a great city. Lived there about one year. Always something to do...not that Paris doesn't, but for me, I found it just big enough to stay busy, but not so big you get lost. ;-)

Yes its true. When I visited the place it is very interesting...Not too big..but architectural design is really amazing ...old typical european...buildings are cute and colorful..

Larri-ann Law :

Thank you @Ahmed

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Yes, and people are more open and friendly...based on my experience anyway.

Here in France are more colored  people...don t worry, they are treated well.

Here's the thing to understand about Parisians and many who live in nearby suburbs and commute to Paris for work or school:
It's not that these people are unfriendly, suspicious, or disinterested in foreigners who come to live here.
The fact is that Parisians etc are raised together as children, most often date each other, work with the same people they went to school with, marry and have children with these same people, raise their children in cities near their friends, go on vacation together...
It's a very close-knit society.
When foreigners move here - no matter where they are from - the problem is "how do you fit into this puzzle?" 
The answer is that Parisians etc don't know where you belong in their puzzle, how you fit in, what could they possibly talk to you about...
So, you might be invited out somewhere once or twice, but when you can't contribute to their conversations - if you have no kids, don't work where they do, don't do anything they consider interesting and most importantly, if you do not make an effort to speak French - nobody will come knocking at your door after that.
Do what you can to make yourself as interesting as possible - go to expos, movies, out to eat, explore different neighborhoods.  Don't make a habit of hanging around groups of English-speaking ex-pats, because most of the time they won't help you understand the French and their culture.
If you invite a couple of French people to your apartment or out for a drink, your chances of becoming more comfortable with them - and they with you - will be much better.  You should make the first move.

Some interesting replies here - but I think lydiamarie1 has nailed it..
I think it's incumbent on you to give people the opportunity to befriend/like you. This means that they must be able to communicate with you in French. You might find that some may throw in the odd word of English from time to time but generally (and not unreasonably) conversations with French people in France will invariably be conducted in French..
I'd also suggest that you steer clear of making what could be construed as critical comments about the country unless you know the person you're speaking to very well indeed.. (and even then I'd avoid it).
If you're intending to stay for a long period in France and you wish to integrate, I'd keep the expat community at arm's length as your language skills will suffer.
My tip? Join groups (hobbies, special interest), associations, sporting clubs - jump in at the deep end - and also try and keep abreast of current affairs in France (if your French isn't up to following live TV, try France 24 in English to get you started).
I echo what lydiamarie1 says: it's up to you to make the first move.
Best of luck to you.

Pip64 always has good advice.

Many people - young, old, or in-between - are terrified at the thought of leaving their apartment and being forced to interact with the "dreaded Parisians".

If you don't know any French at all, this will not be easy.  It will take years to become fluent in French.  But if you came here to experience a foreign culture, you have access to many tools that will help you communicate reasonably well.
The key words are "it will not be easy".  But you are up for a challenge, or you wouldn't have moved here, right?

Get out and do what you normally do at home.  You will need a daily routine, if you are going to be a part of your community and succeed in meeting people.  No sense in spending all this money and effort to move to France, if you'll just be stuck in your room.

As Pip64 said - avoid English-speaking ex-pats like the plague.
Most of them are boring and if you hang out with them, you will be, too.
I know too many people who move here and eat the same food they did at home, because they're terrified to try anything new.  Don't be that person.

Watch how other people do things - hang around the butcher, cheese shop, fruit vendors, etc and listen and learn.  Ask questions - nobody knows everything when they first arrive.  People will be kind to you if you are polite.

If you are trying to enter the dating scene, be careful.  Dating is much more casual in France, and you might not be prepared for the heartache that comes with it.

Get a French-English dictionary with a pronunciation guide.  Look up words you'll use on a daily basis.  Then go out and try to use them. Only worry about the Infinitive, Present, Simple Past and Future tenses of verbs for now.

Don't watch or listen to anything unless it's in French.  It will get into your head eventually, and start to make sense after awhile.  This is how most immigrants learn.

Read French magazines and newspapers - look up words you don't know.
You can borrow the daily newspaper for free when you're at a cafe.

well said!

Another thing to remember is that until you get to grips with French society, culture, customs and manners - which are all very different to those practiced in Anglo-Saxon (ie, English-speaking) countries - you'll go through life here raising people's eyebrows - at best - and offending people - at worst.
As I'm sure you've realised by now, the code by which life here is organised and proceeds by is largely peculiar to France. It's best if you can pick up these behavioural differences and nuances early on.
While this book and its follow-up) are written as entertainment, they both contain many truths that would otherwise take you years to discover the hard way.. and they'll shed light on practices you've observed and thought: "Huh?"

Hi there,

My parents-in-law live in Versailles. It's a wonderful homey town. Great schools, super market on Fridays and Sundays (mornings). Quiet family living. Most of the people are what the French would call from a certain "milieu" (Catholic, bourgeois, family-oriented). My husband grew up there. There are a few areas of the city that are considered better than others, but in general, it's a great place to live.

I've lived in Paris for 10 years now. Paris is a big city, big city life, different than Versailles, which is more of a town. You can take the train direct from Paris (St Lazare or Montparnasse) to Versailles - a train every 20 minutes or so.

If you have any more specific questions I'd be happy to talk to you about it more.

Becoming Madame

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