Rich in heritage and close to home, France is a popular destination for British ex-pats and has much to offer.
Whether you are moving to Paris for the fast pace of city life or retiring to the Provençal countryside, it is important to be aware of the many things that differ between France and the UK.
If you are thinking of moving to France from the UK, our guide on how to move to France from the UK will provide a few tips for making your new life in France a little bit easier
FRANCE VISAS: CAN I MOVE TO FRANCE AFTER BREXIT?
If you are a British citizen looking to emigrate to France from UK, you might be concerned about how the process has changed after Brexit. The most significant change in moving to France after Brexit is that as a UK citizen, you must apply for a long-stay visa (Type D) to stay in France for more than 90 days. To apply for France visas, you must first fill in the form online on the France-Visas website and register for an appointment to submit your application and biometric data at a Visa Application Centre. These are located in London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Your long-stay visa is valid for a year, after which you can apply for a residence permit. This is called a carte de séjour, and you can apply for this by submitting the following at your local préfecture de police (police headquarters):
- Your passport with your French long-stay visa stamped on it
- A copy of your passport
- Two passport-appropriate photos
- Your birth certificate
- Proof of income
- Proof of residence
- If you are married, a copy of your marriage certificate
- If you have children, their birth certificates
- Proof of medical insurance
After you have renewed your carte de séjour three years in a row, you will be able to apply for a carte de résident, which is valid for ten years. If you have been living in France for five consecutive years and can prove an understanding of French culture and the French language, you can apply to become a French citizen.
WORKING IN FRANCE
To work in France, you will need a work permit, which your employer must submit. This means that you will need a confirmed place of employment before you can start the work permit application process. One of the major concerns after Brexit has been whether British citizens will still be able to find work in France. Fortunately, it should not greatly affect British job seekers in France.
Skilled workers with good English and some French are highly valued in France after Brexit since sectors such as health, engineering and IT have national shortages of workers.
There is also a high demand for native English speakers in sectors such as tourism and teaching English as a foreign language.
If you are a skilled worker with a degree or many years of experience, it is worth looking into obtaining an EU Blue Card, as this acts as a residence permit.
Tourism constitutes a significant part of France’s economy, making it easy to find seasonal work. During winter, French ski resorts look for workers with strong English skills and offer packages which often include ski passes and accommodation. In the summer, tourist-driven businesses such as hotels, restaurants and bars take on more staff and are always looking for good English speakers.
OPENING A FRENCH BANK ACCOUNT
Rather than keeping your UK bank account, it is best to open a French one to avoid fees on international transactions. This is particularly important if you are renting or buying property or managing your insurance and bills.
You can set up your French bank account before your move to France without any post-Brexit complications. Banks are permitted to authorise you to establish a non-residency account, even if you do not yet have a permanent French postal address.
PURCHASING PROPERTY IN FRANCE
Property ownership in France falls under French control rather than EU control, so the process has not changed for UK citizens. You will need a French bank account and a valid ID to purchase real estate in France.
However, while second-home owners could previously stay in their French properties indefinitely, they are subject to the rule of spending no more than 90 days in any 180-day period in the Schengen Zone.
Property prices can be much lower than in the UK, depending on where you are. Buying a property could be a great investment in cities that develop further into hubs for particular industries, such as Nice, which is developing as a technology centre.
RENTING IN FRANCE
It is more common in France to rent an apartment or a house than to buy. Around 36% of the French population rents, especially ex-pats during the initial part of their stay.
If you’re moving to Paris, the high rent might push you to think about renting just a room in a flat or searching for a roommate. Many sites are specifically designed to help you with this, such as Whoomies and La Carte des Colocs. When you move to France from the UK, you will find that outside the capital, rent is often lower than in UK cities. This is especially true for more rural areas.
The best way to find flats to rent in France is through rental websites such as Figaro Immobilier and Bien’Ici. Visiting estate agencies (agences immobilières) is another great option, as you can often ask for more information on a flat. This is a particularly good idea for finding flats and houses in rural areas, as these are often harder to find.
WHERE TO LIVE IN FRANCE
France has many great cities to choose from, each with its own unique personality and different opportunities and experiences. Here is a look at some of the most popular French cities.
The city of Bordeaux in the Aquitaine region is one of the most renowned wine capitals in Europe. Home to over 113,000 hectares of vineyards and 57 appellations protecting the production of fine wines, Bordeaux is perfect as both an urban and rural destination.
The city centre of Bordeaux is elegant and cosmopolitan, as well as one of Europe’s biggest areas of 18th-century architecture. The wide, pedestrianised streets and convenient tram system make it an excellent choice for busy professionals and young families alike. The international schools in the area are some of the best in France, while the university and many museums in the region attract a rich academic culture to the city.
For those seeking a slower pace of life, the countryside of Bordeaux is perfect. The area is steeped in history and culture and is home to a wealth of beautiful churches, abbeys and chateaux to enjoy. Many of the vineyards in the area offer wine tours and can even present casual job opportunities for English speakers, thanks to the region’s tourist pull.
Rent in Bordeaux is quite reasonable. Most small flats in the centre are under €500 per month. Buying a property is also much cheaper in Bordeaux than in many UK cities. This could be a great investment, as the city develops further as a tourist area and is increasingly popular among filmmakers. Property prices may rise in the future because of this, but for now, many one-bedroom flats are under €300,000.
The region even has its own small airport, making it a convenient destination for ex-pats and their friends and families.
Located in the south, close to Andorra and the Spanish border, Toulouse is a popular destination for British ex-pats. The city has a warm climate, strong culinary culture and vibrant atmosphere. Its unique architecture using pinkish terracotta bricks has earned it the nickname La Ville Rose (The Pink City).
Toulouse is the European capital of aeronautics, home to Airbus headquarters and main factory and the headquarters of Intel, making it an attractive choice for young professionals. With a population of just under 500,000, the city is relatively compact, which is a draw for those looking for a lively city with a calmer atmosphere.
The city is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites:
- The Canal du Midi, a canal considered to be one of the most significant construction works of the 17th century, is shared with other cities but links Toulouse with the Mediterranean Sea.
- The Basilica de Saint Sarnin, the largest remaining building of the medieval Romanesque style in Europe.
- The former hospital Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Jacques.
The latter two are designated World Heritage sites due to their significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.
The Université de Toulouse is one of the most prestigious in Europe and attracts a large student community. It contributes to the thriving job market and ex-pat community in Toulouse.
Rent prices in Toulouse are very similar to Bordeaux. City centre, one-bedroom apartments will rarely cost more than €500 per month. Property prices are cheaper than in Bordeaux, with many apartments under €200,000. Purchasing real estate in Toulouse is an excellent investment as the tourist and aeronautical industries continue to grow.
A picturesque city on the French Riviera, Nice has been loved by British tourists for hundreds of years. More recently, however, it has developed as the home of the ever-growing French technology industry. Nice is a hub for professional development and growth.
The 2,400-hectare Sophia Antipolis technology park just outside of the city has drawn research and trade in STEM fields since the 1980s. Today, it is home to 2,500 companies. Thanks to a new sustainable development initiative in the Var Valley referred to as ‘the Eco-Valley’, Nice has been recently referred to as ‘the city of tomorrow’. There are plenty of job opportunities for skilled workers, and the nature of the sector makes native English speakers a valuable asset.
Close to the Italian border with a mild Mediterranean climate, Nice has been home to British ex-pats since the 18th century. Their financial influence led to the construction of much of the 18th-century architecture that the city is known for today. However, since the city was part of Italy until 1860, the Italian influence on the city’s culture, cuisine and general way of life is still quite conspicuous.
The city is surrounded by sleepy French villages and natural tourist attractions such as the Lac St. Cassien, a beautiful lake which is perfect for fun family excursions. Property prices and the cost of living in rural areas is often cheaper than in the city itself. The cuisine in rural areas is also worth exploring, many smaller villages have signature traditional dishes and eating rituals that you may not find in the city centre.
Public transport is cheap and reliable in Nice. The city has a good tram and bus network, that means even non-drivers can easily navigate the city and surrounding areas. The Moovit app is incredibly helpful for finding routes and providing up-to-date schedules. Nice’s transport network is so extensive that it is even possible to take a bus to Italy.
The healthcare system in Nice stands out within the already excellent French system. This is a great option for those concerned about the care provided abroad, and it is a draw for many retirees. If you choose to move to France to retire after Brexit, Nice is a wonderful choice for a laid-back lifestyle within a vibrant city.
Rent in Nice is more expensive than in other areas of France. Smaller flats often cost around €550-650 per month. However, purchasing a property is relatively cheap in Nice. Many one- or two-bedroom properties are under €300,000. Thanks to its bright future as significant city for the technology industry, buying in Nice is a smart choice.
Lyon is the second-largest student city in France and the third-largest French city overall. The city has an incredibly strong reputation for its schools and universities, making it a great destination for families. There is also a wide range of job opportunities thanks to its growing relevance in the STEM industries.
Founded as a Roman town, Lyon has a long history as an influential city. It was a major centre for silk production, as well as being significant in cinema history.
Today, the city is a hub for the financial, chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industries. It is also home to a growing software industry. This is focused especially on video games, but the city also has a developing reputation as a great location for various tech start-ups. Outside of STEM industries, Lyon also hosts the international headquarters for Interpol and Euronews. Said to be the second most popular city after Paris for executives in France, it’s the perfect choice for young professionals who move to France from the UK.
Around 13% of residents of Lyon are expatriates. The ex-pat community in Lyon is vibrant and extensive, making it a great place to retire to for those less confident about leaving the UK behind completely.
Rent in Lyon is more expensive than in many French cities, but still cheaper than most UK destinations. One-bedroom apartments are usually around or upwards of €500 per month, but Lyon’s excellent transport links make commuting from a cheaper area a viable option. However, property prices in Lyon are relatively low. Some smaller apartments in the heart of the city are even under €200,000.
Many people dream of living in Paris, and many more people realise that dream: one in seven residents of Paris are ex-pats. Paris is a wonderful city to live and work in, with a well-balanced mix of classic French architecture, culture and international influence. It is home to a wide range of industries, but is known especially for finance, fashion and food.
The city has some of the most prestigious universities in the world such as the Sorbonne, whose alumni and professors have won 33 Nobel Prizes, six Fields Medals, and one Turing Award. Schools in central Paris are generally of very high standards and provide great job opportunities for native English speakers. Many Parisians teach their children English from an early age or hire Anglophone au-pairs, meaning that if you are moving to France from the UK with a family, Paris is a great choice to avoid language barriers.
Property prices in Paris are much higher than elsewhere in France. Monthly rents often reach €1000 per month or over. However, you can usually expect a higher salary to match the higher living costs. If you are looking to purchase a property, the return on it will be significant.
Other destinations we frequently organise removals to include, but are not limited to:
LIFE IN FRANCE
French food is appreciated worldwide, so it is no surprise that it constitutes a large part of French culture.
There is a lot of variation in regional cuisine. In the north, dishes typically use cream or local artisanal butter as a base, while Southern French cuisine feels more Mediterranean thanks to plenty of fish, olive oil and fresh herbs.
Wherever you are, meals in France are a sit-down affair and a big part of everyday family life. They often have many courses and are always an opportunity to socialise.
Traditionally French greetings might feel quite intimate to British ex-pats. A kiss or two on the cheek (la bise) is the most common greeting among friends and relatives and varies according to the region of France you’re in. However, it is not a direct kiss, but rather involves putting your cheek next to the other person’s cheek and making a kissing sound.
French speakers have a reputation of being unwilling to accept mistakes in their language and unsympathetic towards non-speakers. However, this is not accurate; the French are much more accommodating than their reputation. Between large ex-pat communities and locals who are eager to practice their English, living in France without being fluent in French is easier than it seems. French grammar is complex, so minor mistakes can make it harder for native French speakers to understand and can deter non-native speakers from trying to learn. Despite this, French speakers will be pleasantly surprised if you do try.
The plethora of regional accents and dialects in France can make it difficult for British ex-pats to understand French. If you have learnt French from someone with a specific accent, it may be challenging to understand another. Some words differ with the region, such the pain au chocolat being known as a chocolatine in the South is perhaps the most well-known. However, most French speakers will understand you even if you are not using local terminology. If you struggle to understand them, they will always be accommodating and eager to help you learn.
Moving to France without a high level of French can make communication challenging and frustrating. Matthew James Removals can ensure that your move goes smoothly and allow you to get settled quickly in the country.
France has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. It consistently ranks as one of the leading systems worldwide. Unlike in the UK, lengthy waiting lists are uncommon in France, and you will likely get a greater choice when it comes to doctors. French healthcare is incredibly well-organised and of a very high standard.
Unfortunately for UK citizens, your EHIC is no longer valid, so you will need to purchase private health insurance. However, after three months of legal residency, you will be able to access state-provided healthcare in France.
TRANSPORT AND TRAVELLING TO FRANCE
Driving has not been affected immensely in France after Brexit. If your UK driving license was first issued before 1st January 2021, it is recognised in France for as long as it is valid. If your license was issued after this date, you have a year from the date of issue of your residence permit before you must exchange it for a French licence. Unlike in some other countries, France does not require British ex-pats to take another driving text.
British ex-pats driving in France may find that traffic in France feels much lighter. Thanks to the size of the country, the roads feel safer and less stressful than the UK, particularly the autoroute (French motorway system).
The autoroute consists largely of toll roads. The costs of these can add up, but can also save you money on fuel, as they tend to be quite direct. Larger vehicles such as vans and caravans are more expensive to take on toll roads, making it a smart choice to leave your international removals to us.
Speed limits are also slightly different in France. The speed limit for motorways is 80mph, but on motorways and all other roads, the speed limit is lower in wet weather and other adverse conditions.
French public transport is incredibly convenient. Even the French high-speed intercity railway (the TGV, or train à grande vitesse) is cheaper than most UK trains, with tickets for journeys between major cities such as Nantes to Paris for less than €30. Slower trains are incredibly affordable, and both are always incredibly well-maintained.
There are over 30 international airports in France, making it simple to travel between countries. Many of these are smaller airports, which often have lower airfares. National flights are very common, making journeys across the country easy.
The Eurostar and Eurotunnel are incredibly quick and cheap, making them convenient for visits back to the UK.
REMOVALS TO FRANCE
If you are emigrating to France from the UK, we can help you with your removals to France.
Moving internationally is a big undertaking, but with our help it doesn’t have to be daunting. We offer weekly international removals to and from France throughout the year, with Cannes and Paris as two of our most common destinations. Let us take the stress of your move off your hands! With our help, moving your belongings is easy.
The cost of your removals to France will vary according to your destination, chosen method of transport and amount of belongings and insurance. Contact us today for a free quote on our services!