Relocating to France? Everything is constantly changing around us, including the people. if you are making a big decision to relocate to France then we are here to help. Do you dream of a slower, more family-orientated pace of life and the chance to swap microwave dinners for the finer things. France has many fantastic attributes and with that some things you need to be made aware of…

Speaking French

You will be expected to speak the language or at least make an attempt. France is not a country you can go to and expect to be able to communicate in English. In France not as many people are conversant in English as in other European countries. While people will usually politely help you out, it is greatly appreciated if you can speak French. You may find that people refuse to speak in English, either because they don’t have the skills to do so, or they are one of a group of French people who believe that only French should be spoken in France. It is well worth you while taking some French lessons before you relocate and grabbing yourself a French useful phrases and words book.

The French Dining Experience

The table rules in France are not just the same as at home. We want to help sou do yon’t make the most common mistakes, first of all it is considered impolite to rest your arms on your lap (who knew). You should instead rest your hands on the table. In more formal settings this should be hands only, without elbows also resting on the table. You should not start eating until everyone is seated and the host has started. Men should pour the wine and  you will also quickly become accustomed to having bread served with most meals to mop up the remainder of your meal.

French people don’t snack

We Irish love a snack with our cup of tea but unfortunately the French don’t do this. While other cultures may enjoy a quick pick me up at various stages of the day, most French people stick to three meals each day. A snack may be taken by some at 11 and 4 but this is uncommon and normally just for children. Avoid disapproving looks and judgments by sticking to this.

Be polite

The French are very strict about observing certain rules of politeness when talking to strangers. This means you are expected to say ‘Bonjour!’ when entering a small shop or service provider and to use the ‘vous’ form of address. While other cultures like to make small talk by asking questions such as ‘What do you do for a living?’, this may be considered intrusive if you have only just met the person you are talking to.

Driving?

If you are moving to France from a country outside the EU or EEA, such as the USA, you can drive in France on your existing licence for a year, as long as you can provide a notarised French translation of the licence. Thereafter, you will need to obtain a French driving licence.

Winter

French winters are somewhat similar to Ireland. If you are moving to the south of France you probably have dreams of year-long warm weather and daily trips to the beach. You should be aware, however, that temperatures in winter frequently drop to single figures. Thankfully you will have glorious summers to make up for it and 9°C isn’t so bad for the dead of winter.

Paperwork

Paperwork in France can take a little longer and be a little more precious than what you may be used to. Give yourself plenty of time especially if it is anything to do with a Visa.

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