Leaving your hometown and all that’s familiar is hard enough. But moving to another country? That’s a whole different ballgame. There’s the airport, the flirtatious taxi driver, and the slightly giddy feeling that you’re in over your head and maybe you’re not quite cut out for your new adventure. Adjusting might take a long time, or just a few minutes, depending on how much wine you need to drink as fortification. It’s a new culture and language, and you may wonder, “How will I survive here?”
Expatriate communities are the key to helping newcomers acclimate to their new environment. Long-term residents have been where you are, and know the difficulties inherent in being the fresh-faced foreigner without a clue where to start. I was one, too, and still feel grateful for the connections I made and the help I received upon arrival in Paris so many years ago. Below is a list of six major expatriate communities in Paris and how they can help.
AngloInfo Paris Homepage screen grab
This community is truly global. There are franchises all over the world, dedicated to working with English-speakers wherever they’ve chosen to call home as an expat. AngloInfo Paris helps users find information specific to Paris and Ile-De-France, in English, whether it’s a car dealership; where to take the family for outings; sports events; restaurants, among other things. AngloInfo began in the year 2000 and has a large franchisee network worldwide made up of 56 regions.
InterNations Paris Community Landing page screen grab
Branding itself as a “trusted network & guide for expats in Paris,” InterNations Paris’s goal is “making life easier for expats.” Malte Zeeck, Philipp von Plato and Christian Leifeld founded this community back in 2007. It claims to be the largest global expat network, with over 2 million members in over 380 cities. Membership used to be by approval only. InterNations is one of the communities that help build important contacts in the expat community. The organization shares lots of helpful information about life in Paris. Their Community managers (known as Ambassadors) organize close to 3,500 monthly events to help expats meet other people like them and feel more at home. InterNations is a safe environment where you can get advice from others like yourself and learn from the “veterans” of Paris.
Expats Paris Homepage screen grab
The Expats Paris community has been growing since last past 3 years. We’re trying to make a name for ourselves, winning an Expat Star Award in 2014. Our members are not only able to participate in high quality fun and educational events, but also have opportunities to network with the international community living in or visiting Paris. This could be anyone from students, or the newly arrived to well-established residents, visitors passing through, or people here on business.
We founded Expats Paris back in 2014 a few years after arriving in Paris and falling in love with all things French. I arrived in Paris in 2009 and immediately fell head over heels for the city and all it has to offer. I have experienced French bureaucracy—the good and the least good—first hand and perhaps it is out of this that the desire to help others like myself grew to fruition. Expats Paris is a labor of love, aimed at helping first-timers and long-term residents feel at home in Paris.
Expats Paris strives to meet the needs of the expat community and has strong ties with local residents. Our blog gives up-to-date information about everything you need to know about your adopted city. You can find a rental or a roommate through the classifieds or forum. Our members have free access to service providers and eGuides that are a must for the expat just off the plane in the city of lights.
Fusac Homepage screengrab
FUSAC started out as print magazine with various forms of advertising. Then came the website in 1998. Now, everything is done online and the focus is English-speaking communities of Paris and the surrounding area (whether native speakers or as a second language). To date, FUSAC has issued over 20 million copies. There is a popular newsletter called FUSAC Selections, too. FUSAC posts ads for employment, childcare and housing, and has articles about everything from music and dance to courses in other languages. FUSAC is a great resource to have in the English-speaking community of Paris.
Expatriates Magazine Front page of a recent issue
This magazine is well-known for its innovative articles, interviews and insights into French culture, something that is appreciated by the expatriate community, at which it is aimed. A variety of information is offered in categories such as living, workplace, education, language and culture, family and health. Hardcopies are available, but you can also download an e-copy of the magazine.
Lepetitjournal.com’s homepage screen grab
This is a French-language site that was created by Herve Heyraud in 2001. It has an intriguing mix of local and international news in 46 cities around the globe delivered daily. It’s free, and has tips, a calendar, listing of local events and classified ads, among other things. The daily newsletter has around 125,000 subscribers. Both the French and Francophiles use this resource on a regular basis. Many of the topics covered address expat issues most especially French Expats going abroad or returning back home. It’s definitely a way to keep up with what is going on in all things French, whether local or not.
Whichever expatriate community or resource you end up utilizing on a regular basis, you will find warm, caring individuals who are there to help you find your way. Don’t be shy. We’ve all been where you are, and the goal of these organizations is to help you settle in Paris to the best of your ability. Send an email; post questions in a forum; place a classified ad; read a magazine; make friends; take a course and learn the language.
Step outside your comfort zone and take a walk on the wild side. This is to your benefit in the long run, and you’ll be happy you did. In a year’s time, you’ll likely look back on your arrival in the city and wonder how you did it all. But this time, you’ll be sipping wine and laughing with friends while you help another intrepid wanderer discover that wonder that is Paris.
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