The Ultimate Guide to Moving to France
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With a buoyant economy, picturesque countryside and a rich and vivid culture, no wonder France is one of the top European destinations for UK emigration. Whether you choose city life in Paris, Nice or Cannes, or prefer quaint village life surrounded by vineyards and rustic abodes, France has a wealth of unique and interesting locations for Brits seeking a new life abroad.
With a rich culture in fashion, art, history, cuisine and architecture it’s not surprising that France is the most visited country in the world. In fact over 80 million tourists visit the country each year, which is more than the population itself. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to get you started with your move to France including information on moving your possessions, vehicles and pets as well as outlining some of France’s most popular destinations for UK expats.
Moving to France
Choosing a place to live
So you’ve decided that France is the country for you, but where exactly are you going to live? France is abundant in locations offering an unrivaled and highly-desirable quality of life. If you’re looking to move to a countryside chateau with a swimming pool then the south of France might be for you, but if you crave city life then there are plenty of bustling metropolises such as Paris, Lyon and Marseille where you can enjoy an alluring French lifestyle, yet still benefit from the comforts of cosmopolitan living.
Moving your possessions
The thought of moving your furniture and possessions to your new home abroad can be taxing as you ponder which items to take and which would be best left behind. It can also be worrying to think of what might happen to your furniture whilst in transit. That’s where Britannia Movers can help. Providing an unbeatable, professional moving service your possessions will be collected and carefully transported to your new home, hassle free. Britannia Movers will even pack all your belongings for you, offering an unrivaled, experienced service to ensure the best care and treatment of your treasured possessions.
As you plan your move to France it’s worth noting that the following items are prohibited from entering the country:
- Counterfeit goods
- Skin and fur of cats and dogs and all products containing these
When entering France you must declare cash, securities and values of an amount equal to or higher than 10,000 euros to customs administration. If you enter France via the Channel Tunnel you will see two channel options, the red channel and the green channel, you must choose the red channel in order to declare your goods.
Moving with pets in and around EU countries has become far easier in recent years, and there are now some simple procedures in place which make it easy to move your cat or dog from the UK into France.
In order to make the big move with you, your pet will need the following:
- Proof of rabies vaccination
- Pet passport
- Tapeworm treatment (for dogs only)
All of the above can be obtained from your vet. They’ll also need to be securely carried in an authorised carrier and enter the country via an approved route. If you are flying to France it’s important to be aware that your pet can only travel with you in the passenger cabin if it is small enough to fit in a carrier underneath the seat in front of you where it must remain for the duration of the flight. If your cat or dog is too big to fit underneath your seat, they will need to travel in the cargo hold. Flying can be extremely stressful for your pet so it might be worth considering alternative options for transporting your animal. Britannia Movers have years of experience helping families relocate and can help you with transporting your pet too. Our affiliate company, Pet Air can help in arranging documentation, transport and providing the necessary information you need for your pet.
If you are planning a long term move to France and considering taking your car with you, it’s important to be aware of the governmental procedures required in order to do so. After six months for non-residents and 1 month for residents, cars must be registered in France with frenchnumber plates. The process required to do this can be quite long-winded and time consuming as French governmental procedures tend to involve large amounts of paperwork and administration. First of all you will need to contact the DVLA in the UK to let them know you wish to permanently export your car. Next you must arrange a Certificate of Conformity in France that confirms your car adheres to French safety regulations. If you have a car that was made in France such as a Renault, Peugeot or Citroën this should be quite simple, but if its not and your car is particularly unique in any way, this can prove difficult. You will also need to change the headlights so that they are correct for right hand driving and get a ‘Côntrole Technique’, the French equivalent of an MOT. Arrange a tax certificate and finally register your vehicle and receive your ‘carte grise’, which allows you to add French number plates to your car.
Travelling to France from the UK
Depending on your preferences, there are a number of options for making your journey to France from the UK. If you prefer to travel by train you can travel through the Channel Tunnel bythe Eurostar passenger service, or if you wish to take your car with you, you can use the Eurotunnel vehicle shuttle service. Terminals for both are in Folkestone and Calais where cars can move quickly and easily from the motorway in the UK to the motorway in France. For train passengers, additional terminals in the UK include St Pancras International in London and Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International in Kent. In France additional terminals include Lille, Paris and Disneyland Paris. Alternatively, if you prefer to travel across the English Channel by ferry, you can, or you can take a plane. Planes take just 1 hr 15mins from London to Paris. France has numerous airports, so it’s likely you’ll be able to find one close to your destination in France wherever you choose to live.
Those who hold a passport that describes them as a British Citizen or an EU national do not require a Visa to enter France and are able to stay for as long as they wish. If you do not hold a EU passport, depending on your country of residence you may be able to enter the country without a Visa, but only for a short stay of up to 3 months. After this you will need to arrange a permanent residence, work or student Visa if you wish to continue living in France.
The following table shows typical monthly salaries across a range of industry sectors.
|Job Category||Average Salary|
|Construction / Building / Installation||€5,400|
|Sales Retail and Wholesale||€6,528|
|Science and Technical Services||€6,833|
|Oil / Gas / Energy / Mining||€7,700|
|Executive and Management||€8,060|
|Accounting and Finance||€9,208|
Finding a job in France
Whilst not booming, France’s economy is comparatively buoyant and companies and industries in France are continuing to show strength and growth. If you don’t already have a job lined up its worth considering if your company has offices in France or if not your company, a competitor in the equivalent field. It’s worth noting that if you are looking for an executive role a good grasp (at least intermediate level) on the French language is imperative. If you don’t yet speak French it might be worthwhile finding work as an English teacher or in a restaurant, cafe or bar as you build up your language skills.
The local currency in France is the Euro (€ or EUR).
Cost of everyday items
|Loaf of Bread (white)||€1.29|
|Chicken Breasts (1kg)||€10.56|
Sports and Leisure
|Monthly Gym Membership||€51.33|
|Tennis Court Hire||€15.85|
Eating and drinking out
|Meal at inexpensive restaurant||€12.00|
|Three course meal for two at mid-range restaurant||€47.00|
|Standard French beer||€5.00|
France is ripe with vast and beautiful countryside and fantastic scenic villages ideal for those seeking escape, but means a car is almost essential if you want to explore everything this remarkable country has to offer. However with petrol at €1.53 EUR per litre if you are planning a trip across the country or indeed to another city in Europe, it might be worth considering taking a high-speed train or TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse). If you are living in Paris you can rely on the Metro to take you around the city. The Paris Metro is the second busiest underground system after Moscow and has a huge 245 stations. A single trip will cost just €1.70 EUR.
Renting or Buying
If you choose to rent your new home in France you might be surprised at how affordable prices can be compared to the UK. A 1 bedroom apartment in the city centre is on average €650.00 EUR and for a 3 bedroom family home outside of the city centre the price is on average €1,050 EUR. If you are thinking about buying a place in France, it’s worth considering how long you intend to stay in your new home as France is a bureaucratic country with a great deal of paperwork and red tape involved in purchasing a home. That said if you are thinking of renovating a property there are a great deal of opportunities throughout rural France to find something with character and historical charm that could be turned into a luxury home.
French is the official language and if you are considering working in France it’s worth noting that it is required by law to use French in commercial and workplace communications. Taking French lessons before your move will be of great benefit, as it will help you in everyday life, such as during shopping and using public transport. French people do not tend to speak a lot of English so learning some of the pleasantries and introductions such as s’il vous plait (please), merci (thank you), excusez-moi or pardon (excuse me), bonjour (hello), oui (yes) and non (no) will certainly help you start up a conversation which you can then move into English.
French National Public Holidays
Here is a list of French national public holidays for 2014 including their French name. There are a total of 13 public holidays in France each year.
- Wednesday 1st January 2014 – New Year’s Day (Jour de l’An).
- Sunday 20th April 2014 – Easter (Pâques).
- Monday 21st April 2014 – Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques).
- Thursday 1st May 2014 – Labour Day (Fête du Travail)
- Thursday 8th May 2014 – VE Day – WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945).
- Thursday 29th May 2014 – Ascension Day (Ascension catholique).
- Sunday 8th June 2014 – Whit Sunday (Pentecôte).
- Monday 9th June 2014 – Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte).
- Monday 14th July 2014 – Bastille Day (Fête nationale).
- Friday 15th August 2014 – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption).
- Saturday 1st November 2014 – All Saints’ Day (Toussaint).
- Tuesday 11th November 2014 – Armistice Day (Armistice 1918).
- Thursday 25th December 2014- Christmas Day (Noël).
Much like the UK, education in France is free and funded by the government. However, private schools are available for those who prefer. Primary education is mandatory as of age 6, followed by secondary education, which is mandatory until aged 16. Governed by the Ministry of National Education, primary and secondary school teachers are civil servants and employed by the state. Universities in France are also state-funded and tuition fees are considerably low, varying from €150 to €700 per year depending on the university and the level (Bachelor, Masters or Doctorate).
Nicknamed the ‘City of Love’, Paris is a hugely popular destination for tourists from Europe and all over the world who wish to sample the delights of the Parisian lifestyle for a week or two, but what is it like to live in Paris? Paris is a leading centre for business and culture with an economy that has shown strength and power in times when other cities in Europe have crumbled. Not only is Paris notably the fashion capital of the world, home to a number of famous fashion houses such as Chanel, Hermes, Vivendi and Givenchy to name but a few, it is also a hugely successful financial hub hosting the world headquarters of 30 of the Fortune Global 500 companies. Relocating to Paris is likely to provide you with more job opportunities than other parts of the country and its international business district ‘La Défense’ could be the perfect place to exploit your native English skills.
The South of France and the French Riviera
If it’s a quieter life you are looking for then the South of France, with its glorious balmy summers and breathtaking landscapes, could be just the place for you. The South of France is home to the following regions; Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrénées, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Corsica, Rhône-Alpes (the Southern parts), Poitou-Charentes (the Southern parts). Whilst many a quaint village exist in this bountiful region, it’s also home to some of the most important cities in France including Cannes, Nice and Marseille. The French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) offering the ultimate opportunity to soak up the sun, enjoy glorious beaches and indulge in French living.
If its an alpine location and lifestyle you are looking for then there is no better place than Val-d’Isere in the French Alps, a go to destination for skiers from all over the world, regularly hosting world skiing and snowboarding events. Workwise, expect seasonal opportunities on the slopes and in chalets and restaurants. You could also consider opening your own hotel in this luxurious ski destination. Nearby, you’ll find Mont Blanc the highest point in Europe offering a great opportunity for a hike or two!
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lyon is much loved for its history. In fact, one of the first motion picture film cameras, the cinematograph, was created in Lyon during the 1890s in the dawn of the motion picture. Numerous French movies have been filmed in this remarkable city and it’s also known for its light festival ‘Fête des Lumières’. Lyon is famous for its banking as well as the chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industries. It is also a hub for software development and the creation of video games so makes for an ideal location for computer programmers and web geeks alike to escape the hustle and bustle of life in the UK.
A cultural melting pot, Rennes in the North East of France invests heavily in its art and culture and a number of festivals held in the city are famous throughout France including music festival ‘Les Transmusicales’, and cinematography festival ‘Travelling’. Explore ancient forts that date back as far as the third century and delight in exquisite medieval-style timber-framed houses.
Popular Nearby Destinations
If you choose France as your new home, you’ll be a stones throw from some of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world. With streets lined with the works of Catalan architect Gaudí, Barcelona is steeped in history and offers some mesmerizing landmarks, bustling shopping districts, theatres, museums and tourist destinations. View the works of Salvador Dali and Picasso in their respective art museums, take a walk along Las Ramblas, delight in the glorious Park Güell with views across the city and why not take a dip in the sea and relax on the beach.
Milan is not only the fashion capital, but also the commercial, industrial and financial center of Italy. A seven hour train ride away from Paris, will cost just €29 EUR, offering a great value for money opportunity to see this remarkable city. Why not continue your travels and visit other cities in Italy such as Rome, Naples and Florence.
The capital of Germany, Berlin is abundant in fascinating historical sites, landmarks and outstanding modern architecture. Not to mention one of the most exciting nightlifes in Europe. Take a trip to see the remnants of the iconic Berlin Wall, erected shortly after the Second World War, or enjoy delicious dining in the TV Tower’s spherical rotating restaurant with magnificent views of the city.
The second smallest country in the world, the principality of Monaco is just 2.02km squared. Home to the infamous Monte Carlo Casino and the Monaco Grand Prix, which takes place annually on the streets of the principality, this remarkable tourist destination is brimming with popular and unique landmarks. With a train service direct to Paris, it’s a wonderful destination to take your visitors. Monaco also played host to Britannia Movers’ annual conference in 2013 so we can certainly give it our seal of approval!
The climate in France varies from region to region. In the north of France, such as in Paris the climate is fairly similar to the UK with cold and rainy days in the winter and warmer sunny days in the summer. However, as the country is closer to the equator than the UK, temperatures tend to be a degree or two higher. The south of France has a far more temperate Mediterranean climate with hot summers, perfect for eating outside, lazing on the beach or by a pool, and warmer winters.
Food and Wine
French cuisine is one of the most notable in the world and a great deal of time is dedicated to preparing and eating meals in France. Outside of big cities, in countryside towns and villageswhere life is a little slower, you will find shops and offices close for two hours between noon and 2pm when restaurants serve lunch, allowing time for meals to be savoured. Types of eateries that can be found in France include; Bistros, serving good value traditional French meals, snacks, coffee and alcohol; Brasseries for more luxurious dining until late into the night; and Auberges which are countryside restaurants attached to small hotels usually serving traditional French country fayre. Other places to eat and drink include; Cafes focusing primarily on coffees with a few snacks; Creperies, for all types of sweet and sour crepes; Salon de thé, up-market tea rooms serving hot beverages and cakes; and more informal Pâtisserie for baked goods and exquisite cakes.
In general the French drink a small glass of wine every day with their lunch and dinner and this is remarkably considered as one of the possible reasons why France has a significantly lower rate of heart disease and one of the highest life expectancies in the EU. In many restaurants wine is free with your meal and you can enjoy the splendor of different grapes from some of the most famous wine regions of the world including Bordeaux, Champagne, Chablis, Burgundy and more.
Fashion is also taken very seriously in France with both men and women spending significant time considering their appearance. Clothes are of high quality and expensive, especially items such as designer sunglasses, handbags and shoes.
France plays host to one of the most prestigious and publicised film festivals in the world, Cannes Film Festival. Featuring films of all genres, the invitation only festival is attended annually by the biggest names from a wide range of media and film industries. It is a particularly important showcase for European film makers and has launched a variety of film careers.
Le Tour de France is the most prestigious of all multiple stage cycle races and has gained huge global popularity. Millions come from across the world to line the route which changes each year, passing through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees, the Alps and finishing in Paris on the Champs-Élysées.
More about France…
- The Louvre, home to the infamous Mona Lisa is the most visited art museum in the world.
- At 343m Millau Viaduct in southern France is the world’s tallest bridge and France’s tallest structure.
- The average French citizen eats 500 snails each year.
- The distress code “Mayday” comes from the French for “help me!”, “M’Aide!”
- Louis XIX was King of France for just 20 minutes following the abdication of his father. He was then himself abdicated in favour of his nephew, the Duke of Bordeaux.
- Wearing a white wedding dress is a French tradition, which began in 1499.
- Lunchtime in France is usually two hours long, so food can be savoured, except for large cities, almost everything closes from noon until 2 pm when French restaurants are open for lunch.
- There are on average two new cookbooks produced every day in France.
More on moving to France…
If you’re planning a European house move, Britannia Movers can support you in all aspects, ensuring everything is taken care of. Call us on 0845 600 6661 or email email@example.com for more information.