Are you happy in France?

Hello everyone!

According to the 2016 UN World Happiness Survey, Denmark, Switzerland and Iceland are the happiest countries on earth.

How about you? Are you happy in France? Do you feel happier today in your host country than before in your home country? What has contributed to the change?

In your opinion, are locals in France happy? How can you tell?

Please share your experience!

I'm conflicted with constantly thinking that life might be easier in my home country. The French are natural complainers and pessimists but I think underneath it all they are happy with their lot.

I am happy whenever I visit other parts of France as a tourist. But I'm not happy living in Paris. I come from Norway, and I've previously lived in the UK and US. Never have I felt as foreign as I do here. Not just because I had to learn a completely different language, but all the local customs and the culture itself. It's totally different from anything I've ever known. My boyfriend is French and because of his job, we're stuck here in the suburbs of Paris.

Couldn't be happier. Living here has been the best choice of my life.
Are the locals happy? Complaining is a national sport, but in essence they share rich happy connections with others. The shift to xenophobia is occurring here as elsewhere, but perhaps with less venom...

Depends on the day. I think if you are retired with much savings in the bank then the life here would be quite comfortable and easy going. If you are working in France as a foreigner, it can be rather exhausting and very challenging. The quality of life is good as the food is fresh but very expensive and the energy of vacations and breaks is more abundant.

Daily life with the paperwork, the bad drivers, short tempers abound makes life very stressful at times. I think the thing I miss the most about the USA is the space. Parking anywhere without paying for it everytime and the, in general, positive attitude of the people. The negativity here really gets to me and instead of working together to find a solution to a problem it is one way for the most part or the highway instead of seeing what we can do together to find a positive solution.

A bit like when you walk into a shop and there is no hello or a  good day to you, but a "Dites-moi" as if we are disturbing them and the way overpriced goods. Even though that is traditional for a shop keeper it is rather cold and, of course, this is not everywhere. There are many wonderful things about living here such as the kind people that do care and are not always negative, the delicious restaurants, the history, the language. One could go on and one about the positive as well.

I agree with your comments living here, love it's character but the shop staff almost don't want to serve you...almost as if you are a nuisance being there!!
Well done uk staff, good attitude...and if you have to complain or change something...sacrebleu!. And that applies at head office level too!

I am happy in France, but since Brexit and the fall in the £ it is a worry since income has fallen and travelling back to visit my children grandchildren etc..more expensive...

Thank you so much for this question. It is a good topic to start up with. January 1stc2017, it will be my 2 years in France. I am a st at the university of strasbourg. Though i loved to travelled but coming to France was not by best. As we all know that ENGLISH is generally the first official language world wide.french residents don't want to speak or even learn English but they want us we the international students from anglophone to speak the French by force. The speaking of French has really limited many international students from securing a job,as long as you don't speak their language just forget about the job.many foreigners living in France has never been happy, yet we all struggled to survive by adapting to the culture of France.

Whereabouts is "home"? 
I'm visiting the U.K. and family and it is lovely to see my children and grandchildren and talk in ones own to speak!!

I read somewhere once that, through a survey, the French were rated as the most unhappy and depressed people in the developed world. I believe it. Extremely pessimistic and negative. If a task or goal seems 'too easily obtainable', then we must be missing something and need to find a way to complicate things. It's truly 'every man for himself' followed by family and close friends. The rest can f'off and die already, seems to be the attitude most often displayed. Genuine empathy, compassion and the search for mutual understanding? LOL! Sorry, but never been lonelier...although, still very open to being proven wrong on all the previous perspectives. However, after 8 years, I think it's going to be a long wait.

I agree. That's the attitude... Don't know why???

I am happy in France!
I love the food. I love Nantes and I can,t agree with the extremely negative view on french people. I know quite a good number of french, and they can,t be more welcoming to me.
I can say that coming here was a 100% good decision.

You have been in France 8 years already? Wow. What are you doing in Paris? Do you see yourself going back to the USA? Seems like we are on the same boat.

I have lived in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, India, the UK and now France, I have never felt more like a stranger than I do in France. Its tough to connect with people and the French knack for complaining can be annoying.

I have found that being a tourist in France is an amazing experience, one everyone should atleast try, if they have the means, France has rich history, amazng places, great food, but all this is within the context of being a tourist. But, being an Expat is a different story, the bureaucracy is mind numbing, the need for paper and the post for everything is annoying, the fact that you must queue for everything is just annoying.

So, life as a tourist in France is so good its beyond description, but day-to-day life as an expat in France is TERRIBLE.

I think some of you aren't understanding that different countries have different cultures, and expecting to find your culture in a different country is just odd. The french aren't like the Americans and probably never will be. They have different history and different values. For eg. if you strike up a conversation with an American, chances are within an hour you will know some level intimate information about this individual and would have made a new friend, however the french take friendship at a deeper level.....they don't share intimate personal information the first time they meet you. In fact it can take months to reach that level intimacy with them. So what to you might seem like standoffish behaviour is just values and culture.
When foreigners migrate to the US don't you expect them to assimilate into your culture? I for one know that its a lot easier to get along and be understood in the states if you 'put on' an American accent whilst dealing with the makes life so much easier. So why then when you are in France you expect them to conform to you?

Honestly, I don't but it could be my personal circumstances. I lost a pregnancy, my puppy died, my mother ended up in the hospital and I had no way to reach her because my family is not big on technology at all. I'm the only one who likes everything techy. All the ways people usually connect with family ie: Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp, even cellphone was not possible.

I feel like moving here was not the best decision.

I'm surprised by some comments on this thread surprising as I've found people to be very friendly and helpful in general. I find life difficult here because my French is still beginner/intermediate level but I am working to improve this. French people seem very understanding as long as I try to speak their language (which I always do). Maybe there are cultural differences between different french regions? I'm sorry other people have had bad experiences, though I agree the paperwork is mind numbing!

Lizzie2809 I do feel that it is you that do not get what people are expressing. The question was how do you feel about your life in France. People are speaking openly and honestly from their hearsand not in a negative way in any sense of the word. Simply because you do not agree with them is no reason to insinuate that they are expecting the french to conform to american or any other cultural values.

They are expressing their personal experience as through their eyes. Whether you agree or not, even the french will tell you that they are VERY hard to break into and get to know. It is NOT about telling intimate things on the first meeting because americans also do not all do this but it is about making a nice connection with a french person and then expect some energy put back into that new friendship.

You can meet some fabulous french people at an apero or a party and talk all night. Then you exchange numbers and never  hear from them again. SOMETIMES even if you reach out afterwards. I do agree that once you finally climb over their walls to get to know them and break down their barriers, they are amazing friends and very true friends. But what people are trying to communicate here is that this wall is a very high wall to climb over and it is exhausting after so many years and can be very lonely for some. They simply are challenging to get to know in a social circle. Nobody is asking that they conform to anybody else culture but what they are experience in THIS culture, which is spot on from what I have read.

good sir, I don't know if you noticed but there was at least one person who said "english is the first language of the world so they should speak it" no that is not verbatim but that's pretty much what was said. So sorry if the wall is 'too high' to climb....heaven forbid you put a little extra effort into getting comfortable with someone. From personal experience, letting it be easy for people to become my friend has, on multiple occasions, ended with me being ill treated including things like public humiliation and losing jobs. Sorry I don't blame them for making it hard, cause once you let someone into your inner circle that person has the power to pretty much make or break you.
Also what I said about America is from personal experience. Generally very easy to find out personal information from others. Its a culture of sharing because that's how Americans believe bonds are formed with others. I tell you a story about something that happened to me, then you relate a story that shows you can empathize with what I went through. The French are more into keeping things light and witty banter. Heavy topics are taboo. It is what it is.
And if you don't think anyone said anything negative on this thread, please read it again.

Actually, I was in Lille for 6 months and it was a bit better. Now near Senlis, which is a very bourgeois town and haven't seen any genuine expression of care from anyone. Have a son here and a French ex (see: empathy, compassion, understanding) and will not leave him.

To add up something (being in the crowd of happy people) I understand that the way people behaves is quite different in France, and we can,t read french people as easily as a person from another countries. They,re more introverted. Also, they,re proud of their language, so they can,t stand on people whom comes expecting everybody to speak english. It,s something to be at ease in France: the more you try to confort to they language and speak it, the better they will be with you. Why? Cultural preservation. English invaded the world, BUT not France. That,s a fact, and I actually like it somehow because then I can learn a new language.

In my opinion experience is based in many things, expectations, capacity of cultural reading, wich means that sometimes we arrive with our cultural background and we just mess up so much with our behaviours without knowing it... Sometimes is better to be less noisy and to observe, to learn from the environment.

Careful, I am not saying the unhappy people did not do it, there,s alway other the amount of idiots that you cross on your way when you go to a new country, because let,s face it, there are idiots everywhere in the world!
There,s also the city where you live, the neighbourhood, maybe more noisy, more inconfortable for you?
There are many reasons to be unhappy in a country that can be related to this country (Or not).
If a person did not call you after getting in contact, it,s not the end of the world, is that it was not the person.
I am sorry if I am making apology of the happiness,,s healthy, It makes me sad to read so many people unhappy in expats, especially the english side of the forum...

Judging from my own experience and from what I've been told by friends who have previously lived in France, it seems like expats are generally more unhappy in Paris/Paris region than in other French cities.
To be honest, the only Parisians I ever met who were kind of "nice", were some friends of my boyfriend who were polite - yet complained about everything and judged everyone based on their appearance. The only reason I give them the privilege of being called "nice" is because of the politeness. Even that is rare - with the exception of people on the metro/metro stations saying "pardon" after they aggressively bump into you.
My boyfriend was raised by his French father and German mother, and I can thank his mother for him having a different outlook on life than most other people around here. Still, his negative traits are all due to the Parisian culture. He complains a lot, forgets to say "thank you" whenever I do something for him (and just focuses on the things he doesn't like about it, instead of the nice gesture itself) and judges people who look different. He's better now than he was 2 years ago, when we first met.

Another reason why I think I was happier in the UK and US than in France is because of the reason for moving - and the network.

I moved to England to study and I lived in a shared house with other students. I already knew the British culture as my stepfather is from England. And I already spoke the language, so I didn't experience a language barrier.

I moved to the US for work and I started working only two days after I landed and moved in to the shared apartment (five roommates). I became friends with my roommates, but even if that hadn't been the case, I'm sure I wouldn't have been lonely as I still got approached by random people in coffee shops, the supermarket, nail salon, everywhere and easily made friends.

I moved to France to be with my boyfriend, because we didn't want a long distance relationship. The only friends I had here, were people I met at the language school I went to to learn French. These people are no longer in France. Because my French isn't perfect and my diploma from Norway can't be converted as the education system here is completely different, it's hard for me to get a job here. I worked 3 months as a teacher, and I've been here more than a year and a half.
He got offered a job in Michigan and I think it would be way easier for both of us to start a new life in the US...but he seems to have mixed feelings about it.

Kristineirene I was led to believe that it is easier to get jobs in Paris even for people who don't speak French, is this not the case? I was hoping to move there in a few years with my fiancé as I thought life as an expat in France would be easier there but perhaps not... the people certainly sound different than those I've encountered in the south unfortunately.

It depends on what kind of work you wanna do. If you want to work in a bar/coffee shop/restaurant owned and run by anglophone expatriates, you'll probably easily get a job. Unless you have absolutely no experience with that kind of work, then they'll rather hire one of the hundreds of expats in Paris who do.

The problem is usually that France does not convert diplomas into their system, whereas in another countries you can do it. That makes people,s life more complicated, specially if you want to get a job in your field.

I am in that moment of thinking about how to recognize my experience in other countries here, wich I think is possible to do. If you move to France, try to consider this, ask for a proof of your previous jobs, so you can at least have something to say when you look for a job.
I  got a job speaking english, however, it,s quite rare to find this kind of jobs...If you come here, just be prepared, it,s not an easy-going country, though is nice in my opinion.

On the Paris thing, I was born and raised in Corsica and also lived in the Provence back country before moving to the US 18 years ago. Even back when, anyone wanting to move to Paris was considered crazy as Parisians were seen (and acted as such when invading our countryside in the summer) as rude, always in a hurry, never happy and criticizing everything. Most french expats that I met in the US are from Paris, and all this still holds true.  :D

Other than that, I can read similar complaints about expat life on different forums when one doesn't assimilate. I know first hand (my ex) that not mastering the language and not understanding/embracing the local culture is a major obstacle to happiness in another country... exception for Paris where I simply can't put the name of the French capital and the word happiness in the same sentence without using a negative.  :P
Maybe you guys can move to nicer parts of France? Good luck to y'all anyway!

PS: I could say the same thing about New York city, although I know that playing tourist for a few days in either city is an awesome experience, just not living there...

Living and working in the Southwest of France I know differs greatly than living in a big city such as Paris or Marseille so my experience is most likely very different as well. As others have noted it does not take long to realize the French are not the most accommodating bunch. Whether that means in daily life or in business. However generally I feel a sense of compassion and understanding of how challenging it can be for an American living in France. In fact they often are very self aware of the French mentality and make light of it also. I'm only a year in so most likely still in the honeymoon period, but I am very much enjoying my time here living, learning and experiencing. At times the ability to communicate does take its toll on me, but I know that will change with time and effort on my part.  Really the only thing i truly miss is a better variety of food options!

I read surprised about the lack of variety of foods in the south of France, @Homeofthebrave...

Could you explain yourself a bit more? It,s a bit shocking for me, because I think france has really a lot of choice of food, fish, meat, cheese (wow, a huge amount i,d say) and a lot of culture of eating well.

Perhaps if you ask for information about where to get the kind of food you like, people who lives there can help you find shops/places to get the food you are searching, and that also is happiness :), I am sure

France seems to be a very beautiful country to live in, or at least that what it seems to be from where I live.

Even if it was not as happy as a Scandinavian country, it seems towers happier than where I currently live; I am welling to pay taxes to receive the benefits of freedom the French are currently living. The language, culture, food, and history make France very unique to me.

I do not intend ever to live there as a poor man or leeching on social benefits. on the contrary, I will start a good business to benefit myself and the economy.

Currently we are financially well off where we live, but money is not everything.

Thanks for asking us for our feedback.

lotuselisel :

I read somewhere once that, through a survey, the French were rated as the most unhappy and depressed people in the developed world. I believe it. Extremely pessimistic and negative. If a task or goal seems 'too easily obtainable', then we must be missing something and need to find a way to complicate things. It's truly 'every man for himself' followed by family and close friends. The rest can f'off and die already, seems to be the attitude most often displayed. Genuine empathy, compassion and the search for mutual understanding? LOL! Sorry, but never been lonelier...although, still very open to being proven wrong on all the previous perspectives. However, after 8 years, I think it's going to be a long wait.

Even if I wanted I couldn't have explained this better. My experience was a year only, so I don't have a right to complain that much. I loved France, its history, cuisine, language, architecture etc. But as an expat it is amazing how hard it is to meet people and bond. My last two months were amazing because I was living in a community with young people (both French and foreign). However, rest of the year I was very lonely. But this is not just the problem for foreigners. I spoke to locals and many of them feel the same. The overall state of things is a bit dark. Could be due to economic reasons or something else. As it stands now, I see France as an amazing country, but their citizens are not using the advantages they have to the fullest. Instead, they prefer to close themselves and be grumpy.

Try to find an authentic Japanes, Korean, Thai restaurant.

I am open minded ,friendly,adventurous. I am here to have global friendship.
traveling, reading, gym, meeting new people, hanging out, friendship

Yes happy. But.
I am UK by birth and schooling, but left after University and have had all my working life in Australia. Have moved all over Aus and still have itchy feet. Have been in this big house, which we love, 18 months and already am looking at where to go next. I am dismayed by what is going on in UK and never want to go there and we will end up back in Aus one day, but where in the mean time.
Last night sitting by the fire I wished for somewhere warm. Started googling houses in Sri Lanka. When we lived in a warm climate I wanted cold! We cant go back to Aus yet because the quarantine times are so long, no way could we put our two elderly dogs through that. (We bought one of them this way but no quarantine Aus to UK) But some countries don't need that.... We thought of getting motorhome and travelling all around Europe but I think Id end up divorced or in jail for murdering hubby. 
To answer the question, yes I love it here, small country town, great house (no way could we afford a house like this in Aus or UK) with easy access to facilities but very little traffic. I am learning the lingo as fast as I can but in the mean time have made English speaking friends. Not sure Id be so happy in a big town or if needing to work...

I have read through the replies so far with interest, but one crucial bit of information is (not always, but almost always) missing. People speak of France as if it's a town, not a large diverse country. Rarely does anyone actually say *where* in France they are. Different regions have different customs. For example, someone was complaining of the lack of a greeting when entering a shop. I guess that person wasn't in the South ;-)
So please can people say where they are, which would help us all to benefit from their experience in a practical way.

Indeed, living in Sarcelles, Biarritz or Sartene is almost like living in different countries as much as living in Hoboken NY, Jackson MS and St Georges UT would be in the US.
And for authentic Japanese or Korean cuisine, well, you gotta go to Japan or S. Korea for that. There are no "authentic" Japanese restaurants in the US either.

I'm not implying that y'all don't experience a tough time where you are, expatriation can be pretty rough, but proposing some alternatives to the issues you face there. Maybe moving to a different place or getting a different job/hobbies/social groups, etc... If it proves too difficult to stay there in the long run, maybe going back home is the answer. It certainly isn't worth being miserable for years.

I've seen the same issue over here with expats from many different countries who couldn't find the right place and the right people. They had the exact same issues and comments. I'm sure that if you browse the other forums on, you'll see similar comments about unhappiness in the host country, no matter where they're from.

Oh my..already lots of people wrote here.

Well, coming from a country like Indonesia, living here is everybody's dream. I am more than happy. I live in Rennes, everybody is nice, from the street seller, fashion shops until the government head office staffs, i never had problems with them, i have questions or need help; they would explain everything to me with smile and dedication. I speak french very very little and they would try to speak english to me ! And nobody tried to screw me, it is a complete opposite to my home country where i never feel safe, every corner of the street there must be people who are willing to screw you...rob you...your house is not safe, people will try to get money from you whatever way. If you are Christian you will never get highest position, everything you do people will ask what your religion is, etc etc i do not like that.

Here i can live in freedom. But at the same time i enjoy the discipline culture where i can not get in my home country. Discipline traffic, priority to pedestrian, even to queue in the toilet ! Etc etc. None of these i get in Indonesia, everything is shit there (except the nature!) I like the strict system in France, everything is in order. Indonesia does not have any good system at any corner.

I will not write too long, because it will be endless. I am happy with everything, i can tell that the locals are happy by looking at the way they treat me, anywhere.


A happy expat in France.  :D  :cool:

As for the authentic Japanese or Korean restaurants,  there's plenty in Paris. Rue Saint Anne, metro station Pyramides. ALL the restaurants there are authentic restaurants from Asian countries - most of the restaurants are Japanese. I went to one yesterday, had a delicious bowl of Udon in an Udon restaurant :)

If you have any leads about Indonesian or Malaysian Restos,  addresses are welcome.

I'd be interested in hearing if there are any Caribbean, specifically Trinidadian restaurants. I've been missing my Roti and sorrel juice.

I live in Paris and I'm happy most of the time.  I'm from the United States and there are a lot of differences.  Despite a lot of the differences, I love it here and feel happy!  Then again meeting my fiancé makes it better and being in love makes everything rosey and beautiful! Lol

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