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Moving to Paris

Expats moving to Paris will find that from its grand boulevards to its cobbled stone streets, the city is certainly exceptional, but it's nevertheless hard to hold a candle to the many romanticised ideals created about the iconic capital. 

One point that expats can count on is the city’s thriving, robust economy. As home to a number of Fortune 500 companies as well as global humanitarian and financial organisations, Paris is one of continental Europe’s largest economies and produces over a quarter of France's total GDP.

Well-qualified French-speaking expats will find plenty of job options available and can take advantage of the famous 35-hour workweek and large allotment of holiday time. Non-EU nationals will usually need to organise a work permit prior to arrival through an employer sponsor. However, if expats don't speak French, have a fair amount of experience or hold impressive degrees, finding a job may be difficult.

Alternatively, those with the intentions of learning the local language, aggregating career skills or furthering their education can reap the benefits of the city’s impressive infrastructural assets and socialised services. 

Expats moving to Paris will find it one of the easiest cities in the world to navigate. Orientation is simplified by the 20 numbered arrondissements, and an extensive system of buses and trains provide accessible and affordable public transport. A private car is a luxury that only businesspeople and status-seekers confess to needing. The city also has a large-scale bicycle-sharing system in place called Velib. 

The French healthcare system is among the best in the world. Those who contribute to social security or who have reached retirement age in their home country can often benefit from the fantastic public health insurance system, which is funded by tax deductions and can cover up to 70 percent of healthcare costs.

One drawback to living in Paris, however, is the high cost of living. Accommodation is particularly expensive. Expats on a budget should be prepared to downsize and live outside of the city centre. Apartment-hunting can also be very challenging. Expats should expect to compete with large numbers of people for a living space that they may not be particularly passionate about.

With so many fantastic activities to enjoy, restaurants to sample, museums to meander and parks to explore there's very little reason to spend too much time at home. The climate in Paris is pleasant, rarely peaking above 25°C (77°F) in summer or dropping below freezing in winter. On the whole, expats will certainly find some part of the city that more than satisfies their tastes.

Weather in Paris

The weather in Paris and the surrounding Île de France region is a result of a temperate climate, which translates into cold, but not freezing, winters and warm, pleasant summers. 

Though the capital claims France's lowest rate of annual rainfall, showers are nonetheless a consistent feature of life in Paris. Expats will quickly learn not to leave home without an umbrella. Thunderstorms tend to be short and sweet, and the sun usually pushes the clouds away in no time. 

August is the hottest month in Paris, and January the coldest. Summer temperatures average around 20°C (68°F), although August temperatures can rise to 35 °C (95 °F). Winter temperatures average around 5°C (41°F). Many Parisians leave the city in August when the weather is warm and muggy.

 

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Working in Paris

Despite France's position as one of the foremost economies in Europe, finding a job in Paris isn't easy. The majority of expats in Paris relocate as a result of a transfer where they had previously worked for the same employer overseas. While it's possible to find a job through one's own efforts, it's beneficial to do some networking and make use of personal contacts in Paris.


Job market in Paris

Paris is one of the most visited destinations in the world and, as a result, skills in the tourism industry are well-respected and in high demand. Expats with experience in the hospitality and service industries will encounter no shortage of job opportunities.

Paris is also the corporate centre of France and is home to the headquarters of many top international firms. Expats wishing to move to Paris are advised to search for international organisations from their home country that may be interested in employing foreign nationals in France.

The average working day in France is from 9am to 6pm, but this can vary between industries. Those in the tourism industry work different hours and may even be subject to shift work. Expats working on a contract can expect a fair amount of leave and two extra cheques a year. Expats can expect approximately 25 percent of their income to be deducted for tax purposes.


Finding a job in Paris

Getting a job can be difficult for expats wishing to work in Paris. A degree of fluency in French is vital to fill even the most basic entry-level position in most companies. That being said, there are a number of jobs expats can do until they have a better grasp of the French language. English language teachers and au pairs can make enough money to live off until their French becomes sufficient to enter the mainstream working environment.

Most people find employment through networking and alumni organisations, as well as through classified listings on the internet. Sending a CV is usually the first step in applying for a job in France, followed by an interview. The French expect persistence, so it can be useful for an expat to follow up an application with a number of calls enquiring as to when an interview will be arranged.


Work culture in Paris

Expats will find that work culture in Paris is formal and hierarchical. Locals usually also place great value on physical appearances. While Parisians tend to see deadlines and meeting times as being flexible, expats should nonetheless try to be punctual. 

The high level of bureaucracy in France can also have an impact on work culture in Paris. French businesspeople enjoy spirited debates and can at times come across as hot-headed. However, they usually see value in arguments that are based on sound logic. Parisians will also generally appreciate any efforts made by expats to speak the local language.

Accommodation in Paris

Paris is a densely packed city with many neighbourhoods, each with a distinct flavour and personality. Expats searching for accommodation in Paris should take a walk through the city and explore each respective area before securing housing.

The public transport infrastructure in Paris is also one of the densest in the world, so it can be more difficult finding a place off the grid than on it. Choice of location is therefore generally a matter of price and taste more than transit convenience.


Types of accommodation in Paris

The kind of accommodation available in Paris largely depends on its location. In and around the city centre expats will mostly find apartments and studios, while further into the suburbs there are more houses and cottages.

The main types of accommodation in Paris include:

Chambre de Bonne

A chambre de bonne is the smallest and cheapest type of accommodation in Paris. Formerly maids’ quarters, these charming abodes are usually fully equipped with modern amenities and are often occupied by students or young professionals. It is not uncommon for a chambre de bonne to share bathroom facilities with its neighbouring apartment.

Apartments

By far the most common form of accommodation in Paris, apartments are available at a wide range of prices which depend on size, quality and location. It is not unusual for people to share a multi-bedroom apartment, not only to dilute expenses but also to account for the incredibly high demand. Expats looking to rent an apartment in Paris can expect all of the amenities associated with modern living, but older units may not include parking or central heating.

Facilities are one of the most important measures of an apartment’s quality. It's usually worth paying extra for an apartment that is individually heated as some landlords turn off a building's heating when they go to bed.

Houses

Houses are a common choice of accommodation for expats living in the suburbs of Paris. They are frequently multi-storey and often include a garden, but can be considerably more expensive than apartments. Houses in Paris are more commonly bought than rented, but an experienced house-hunter shouldn't have too much difficulty finding both options available.


Finding accommodation in Paris

Finding accommodation in Paris is no different from finding a place to stay elsewhere in France. However, prices are inevitably more expensive and the competition more fierce.

Expats looking for accommodation in the city will most likely have to deal with smaller-than-average living quarters in spite of particularly high costs. Those on a budget are advised to either look outside of the city or consider sharing an apartment. 

It can be invaluable for expats searching for accommodation in Paris to connect with people over social networking sites. High demand and the unpredictable nature of classifieds leads to many property owners only advertising through their social network, so expats using their contacts or making new connections through online groups will have an edge over their competition. 


Renting accommodation in Paris

Expats living in Paris will most likely rent their accommodation and there are a number of things to keep in mind while deciding whether or not to sign a lease.

Furnished vs unfurnished properties

Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation is available in Paris. Furnished options are inevitably more expensive and more likely to be available for short-term rental. Unfurnished accommodation rarely includes appliances such as a fridge or stove. It is always important to take a full inventory of the apartment's condition on arrival. This not only simplifies matters for both tenant and landlord, but also demonstrates responsibility.

Making an application

Expats seeking accommodation in Paris will need to act swiftly once they find a place because of the intense competition and demand in the city, with listings commonly being taken down minutes after going up.

A good impression with a prospective landlord can be the difference between signing a lease and having to continue the search, especially when there are dozens of other eager candidates.Expats should come prepared with all the necessary documents so they can get the ball rolling as swiftly as possible. 

Leases

Standard leases in France are generally 12 months. It is possible to negotiate shorter leases directly with the landlord but most property owners are reluctant to do so. 

The law in France mostly favours the tenant, meaning that eviction or raising the rent can be a difficult task for a landlord. A letter must be sent to the tenant at least six months prior to a rental increase, informing them of the landlord’s intentions. The landlord also has to show that the rental increase is in line with the market value of the property.

Utilities 

When signing a lease, expats should be sure to read the paperwork carefully in order to understand what is included in the rental price. Tenants are usually responsible for paying their own utility bills, but in the case of short-term rentals, these could be included. 

French law also requires tenants living in apartment buildings to take out inexpensive rental insurance to protect against theft, fire and damage to the communal areas. The local town hall can provide more information on what this involves. 

Deposits 

The deposit for an apartment is usually a full month's rent, with the expectation that the tenants will provide two months' rent in advance in addition to this. Tenants wanting to move out must provide at least three months’ notice to the landlord, but a clause can be added to the lease to shorten this requirement. If the inventory upon the departure of the tenant shows no damage, the full deposit should be returned.

Areas and suburbs in Paris

Choosing an area in Paris is one of the most difficult parts of an expat's housing search. This can be a stressful process, but those who are persistent will find that there are plenty of options available to suit nearly every taste and budget.

Paris is made up of 20 neighbourhoods or arrondissements that spiral out in a snail-shell pattern from the Île de la Cité, the city’s historic centre. Parisians routinely refer to the arrondissement numbers, so expats should be familiar with these.

Before spending time searching for accommodation in Paris it’s important that expats consider exactly what they want from their Parisian neighbourhood, as the housing available in each arrondissement can differ tremendously. 


City living in Paris

Areas and Suburbs in Paris

Expats who move to Paris for a short period and young professionals often choose to make the most of their time in the city by finding accommodation in central areas. The advantage of living close to the city centre is that one can be close to major attractions and entertainment venues and also avoid a long commute to work. The downside of living in these sought-after parts of the city is that accommodation is rather costly, small and not always easy to secure. These are some of the popular neighbourhoods for expats.

Paris Islands: Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis (1st and 4th arrondissements)

These two islands serve as the epicentre of Paris, with the 4th arrondissement being home to the legendary Notre Dame Cathedral. The lifestyle in these neighbourhoods is more laidback and less prone to the hustle and bustle characteristic of the rest of Paris. A lot of elderly people live here, attracted by the peacefulness and picturesque scenery along the Seine. Prices may be high but are often worth the expense.

Bourse (2nd arrondissement)

Widely thought of as the financial district, this area of Paris offers good value for money. Prices for apartments are reasonable and it's less touristy than other areas, but it's still busy and crowded with workers travelling back and forth during peak hours. The 2nd arrondissement boasts plenty of stacked buildings, meaning more top-floored apartments and fantastic views over the city.

Saint Germain des Prés (6th arrondissement)

This little gem on the left bank of the Seine is home to the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. Apartments are on the expensive side due to its central location, views of the river, parks, famous cafés and proximity to the popular 7th arrondissement. Haussmann-style architecture reigns in the district, whereas quirkier apartments can be found in the Germain area.


Suburban life in Paris

Areas and Suburbs in Paris

Expats looking for a quieter life and a more authentic Parisian expat experience should explore living options in the suburbs of Paris. Here expats will find a greater range of accommodation options that are more spacious and generally better value for money. Areas further away from the city centre also tend to be more suitable for families because of the proximity to schools and outdoor spaces. Luckily, those who choose to live in the suburbs won't need to miss out on the fun of city living thanks to Paris' excellent transport network which makes it possible for them to access all the facilities and attractions on offer without too much hassle. 

9th arrondissement

While the 9th arrondissement isn't full of the typical attractions, expats will get a real insight into Parisian life. It may not be as charming as other parts of the city, but there's a nice choice of apartments in this residential area. The Opera and the Galeries-Lafayette department store on one end and the edge of Montmartre on the other, expats will find that this neighbourhood is a great base when it comes to exploring Paris. The 9th arrondissement is also home to authentic Parisian cafés and bars, so residents won't need to travel too far for entertainment. 

Bastille (11th arrondissement)

The 11th arrondissement is a lively area that offers a bit of everything. To the east are the Place de la République and the Bastille, joined by the tree-lined Boulevard Richard Lenoir which offers a large market and numerous children’s parks. The more prestigious apartments are found to the west of the district. Prices around the Bastille area are slightly high due to its popularity. To the east, apartments are slightly more affordable.

Belleville (19th/20th arrondissement)

Belleville may have historically been a working-class neighbourhood which was home to a range of different ethnic communities, but it's fast developing into a popular place to live in Paris. As is the case in major cities across Europe, Paris is gentrifying and Belleville has become a zone for artists and entrepreneurs looking for an affordable base. Expats will find that rental prices are lower here, but residents certainly won't lose out when it comes to experience with its fabulous range of affordable ethnic eateries. This is the place to be for an adventurous expat.

Healthcare in Paris

Healthcare in Paris, as in greater France, is exemplary and often flagged as a benchmark for both developed and developing countries. The World Health Organization rated it as one of the best in the world, and both locals and foreigners regularly attest to the high standard of care received in an efficient and affordable manner.

Expats living in Paris will find a comprehensive network of public and private healthcare facilities available. Those who qualify for the state-sponsored public health insurance system can enjoy the substantial coverage it offers. 

Expats are free to choose their doctor in Paris. Most practice privately but uphold rates negotiated by the national government. A few may charge over and above this, especially if they are specialists addressing a niche medical matter.

Below is a list of prominent hospitals in Paris.


Hospitals in Paris

American Hospital of Paris

Website: www.american-hospital.org
Address: 63 Boulevard Victor Hugo, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris

Hertford British Hospital

Website: www.british-hospital.org
Address: 3 Rue Barbès, 92300 Levallois-Perret, Paris

Hôpital Foch

Website: www.hopital-foch.org
Address: 40 Rue Worth, 92151 Suresnes, Paris

Education and Schools in Paris

Paris is home to many of the world’s top-rated schools and educational facilities. Expats placing their children in schools in Paris will find a high-quality and demanding level of education. Public schooling in France is free for expats who can provide proof of residence, and private schools and universities are often subsidised. Non-residents may have to pay tuition fees as the schools are financed through tax.

Schooling in Paris is an official requirement from age six but many parents send their children to school much earlier. The collèges cater for children 11 to 15 years old, with lycées for the 15- to 18-year-olds. The baccalaureate, or le bac, is the finishing diploma for schooling in Paris, and performance in this exam determines access to higher education.

The schooling culture in Paris emphasises academic excellence and usually allows the teacher to preside over their domain with little input from parents. This may be difficult for expats to adjust to, and parents would do well to discuss these differences with their child before they enter into the schooling system. 


Public schools in Paris

Expats legally residing in France are entitled to send their child to a public school in Paris at no cost. However, very few expats take advantage of this option. Partly, because most expats only move to the city for a few years.

For those looking to settle down in Paris in longer-term, it's worth exploring this option. Beyond monetary considerations, the biggest advantage of enrolling an expat child at a public school in Paris is that it allows them to become fluent in French which in turn helps them integrate into French society faster.

That said, picking up a new language is easier for younger children. Older children who don’t already speak French often find attending public schools in France overwhelming because of the language barrier. While some schools do offer extra language classes to help bring foreign students up to speed, this remains relatively rare.

The standards of public schools vary considerably in Paris. Better schools tend to be located in more affluent areas. Generally, class sizes at public schools are large. One teacher for 30 students is quite common.


Private schools in Paris

Private schools can be a great middle-ground option for expats, especially as many of these provide classes taught in English as well as in French. There are two types of private schools in France; those that have contracts with the government and those that don't. A private school may ease a child's transition into French culture, especially for those from substantially different backgrounds.

As fees can be subsidised by the government, expats find that private school fees in France are often cheaper than those at an equivalent school in their home country. 


International schools in Paris

Paris is also home to a number of international schools. These are popular among expats who are only in Paris for a short period of time and have plans to return to their home country. International schools in Paris offer a range of curricula including British, American and International Baccalaureate. 

The benefit of sending expat children to international schools is that it allows them to have a degree of continuity in their studies which can ease their adjustment to life in a new country. It also allows them to mix with other expat students who might face similar challenges.

Standards at international schools in Paris are excellent. These also offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities including sports, music, and art. Fees at international schools in Paris tend to be high, so expats should negotiate an allowance to cover these within their employment contract, if possible.


Homeschooling in Paris

Homeschooling, or l'école à la maison, is legal in France. However, expats wishing to pursue this option must register annually with the school inspectorate. Parents who choose to homeschool their children will also be subject to yearly inspections by the local education authority to ensure that students are receiving an adequate standard to education.  

There are several support groups and homeschooling organisations that assist those who choose to homeschool expat children in Paris.   


Tutoring in Paris

The private tutoring industry in Paris is on the rise. While most tutors offer one-on-one sessions, some services provide small groups sessions. The French government has taken steps to regulate the private tutoring industry, but parents should work through a reputable tutoring agency to ensure that teachers are properly equipped to teach their children. 

Finding a tutor suitably qualified to teach French and International Baccalaureate curricula is fairly easy in Paris. However, there are fewer tutors that can assist with other national curricula such as the British or American. 

Parents will find that their children’s school and networking with other expat parents may be a good starting point for sourcing good private tutors. Axiom Academic is a global tutoring database which offers access to a large number of tutors throughout Paris.


Special needs education in Paris

The infrastructure in place to support people with special needs in Paris is fairly well-established. Where possible, both public and private schools in France try to cater to the needs of students with special needs through the use of specialist teaching assistants. The Maison Départmenetale des Personnes Handicapeés (MDPH) is the organisation charged with evaluating a child's special needs. They work with the Commission des Droits et de l'autonomie des Personnes Handicapeés (CDAPH) to create a personalised learning plan. 

When a special needs student can’t be accommodated at a mainstream school, there may be options of special schools or private tutors. The availability of additional staff and facilities to cater for special needs students often depends on the school as well as the area in which it's located. It is therefore important for parents of students with special needs to investigate the availability of appropriate facilities when selecting a school in Paris.   


Tertiary education in Paris

The French tertiary education system is divided into grandes écoles and universities, with the former being more prestigious. 

Unlike many other countries, universities in France are specialised rather than general. This means that students choose to attend universities based on their subject choice. For example, the École Polytechnique is an engineering school, while HEC Paris is a business school. The University of Paris is a world-leading tertiary education institution specialising in the humanities.

Public institutions like the Polytechnique have set fees and receive subsidies from the government, so costs are kept low. For private universities in Paris, such as HEC Paris, costs can be significantly higher.

International Schools in Paris

International schools in Paris cater to expats from all over the world, offering the curricula of various countries. The International Baccalaureate is popular, as are the American High School Diploma (including the SATs and Advanced Placement) and the English National Curriculum (including the Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels).

Most international schools in Paris have a diverse student body with a range of nationalities represented. This means that, even if parents prefer their children to continue with a curriculum from home, they will still have a unique multicultural experience in Paris. Another advantage of international schools is the high standard of facilities, teaching, and support resources, particularly for non-English speakers.

Applications are accepted year-round at international schools, but space isn't always available. It's a good idea to get in touch with schools directly and apply as early as possible.

Below is a list of popular international schools in Paris.


International schools in Paris

American School of Paris

The American School of Paris has more than 70 years of history. Facilities are top-notch, giving students all the resources they need for a high-quality education. Small class sizes come standard, allowing teachers to give students individualised attention. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

The British School of Paris

Founded in 1954, the British School of Paris was France's first UK-curriculum school. Today, the school continues to offer high standards of education across two campuses in Croissy-sur-Seine. The school's extra-curricular programme is packed with variety. Students are encouraged to explore areas such as sport, theatre, music, art, community service and student leadership. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels
Ages: 3 to 18

Internationale Deutsche Schule Paris

Situated in the lush suburb of Saint-Cloud, Internationale Deutsche Schule Paris offers the German national curriculum as well as a blended German-French curriculum. Students can earn the AbiBac, a dual-diploma comprising of the German Abitur and the French Baccalauréat, or they can elect to earn just the German Abitur. German-language support is available for non-native speakers. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German and French
Ages: 4 to 18

Svenska Skolan Paris

Svenska Skolan Paris teaches the national curriculum of Sweden from preschool through to upper secondary school. The school aims to expose students to French society, culture and language while offering a proudly Swedish education. Svenska Skolan Paris is especially popular with families from Nordic countries. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Swedish
Ages: 3 to 18

Eurécole

This unique school offers a trilingual education where students are taught in three languages daily beginning in pre-school. The languages available are French, English, and German or Spanish. For pupils not proficient in French, there's a comprehensive French as a Foreign Language programme which consists of daily one-on-one tutoring. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 3 to 18

Forest International School

Forest International School's child-centred approach to education is ideal for expat parents looking for an individualised and personalised experience. The language of instruction is English, with French as a compulsory additional language in pre-school and primary school. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum,  International Primary Years and International Middle Years
Ages: 2 to 15

International School of Paris

A prestigious school with more than 50 years of history, the International School of Paris is a diverse school with no one dominant nationality. The student body is made up of more than 65 different nationalities and has a good mix of local and international students. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate 
Ages: 3 to 18

Lennen Bilingual School Paris

Teaching at Lenne Bilingual School Paris is done in a mix of French and English from preschool right up to the end of primary school. The school's child-centred philosophy nurtures academic progress alongside other personal aspects of development with the goal of producing well-rounded, self-assured students. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Independent
Ages: 2 to 11

Marymount International School, Paris

This not-for-profit school is part of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary network of international schools. Marymount International School offers fully accredited standards-based Catholic education from Pre-K to Grade 8. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American (Catholic)
Ages: 2 to 14

Lifestyle in Paris

Paris offers a romantic and exciting lifestyle for expats to enjoy, with hundreds of first-class restaurants, some of the best shopping in the world and a stylish nightlife scene. Expats in Paris will have no trouble at all finding places to see or things to do in the city. 


Nightlife in Paris

The City of Lights truly comes alive at night, with many distinct areas catering to their own brand of night owl. Expats looking to dress the part and try their hand at getting into swanky high-end clubs should meander down the Champs-Élysées, a notable stamping ground of Parisian wealth and beauty.

Those after a more relaxed atmosphere should head to Marais and Bastille, which are host to numerous bars and clubs and popular with the city’s international community. The more alternative expats in search of live rock and industrial atmosphere may prefer the Grands Boulevards, which have a variety of suitable venues.

As a general rule, bars in Paris start filling up around 10pm and are open until around 2am, whereas clubs tend to pick up around midnight and continue until 4am.

Expats wanting a uniquely Parisian night out could catch a cabaret show at the world-famous Moulin Rouge, located in the city district of Pigalle, or a production of the l’Opera National de Paris at the Palais Garnier. 


Shopping in Paris

Paris is a perfect destination for shopaholics, as it presents plenty of opportunities to peruse aisles and lighten pockets. Expats can browse the boutiques along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré for some of the best in haute couture, or stroll down the Rue Étienne Marcel for chic high-end fashion.

The Champs-Élysées area is home to the famous Guerlain Parfumerie as well as several malls. Les Halles underground mall features cheap knock-offs and trendy wares. There are a number of fantastic flea markets near the city gates to explore, as well as open-air markets trading in fresh produce, flowers and clothing. 


Eating out in Paris

Paris has plenty of restaurants and cafés to offer expats of all palates. As a culinary capital of the world, Paris is famed for its gourmet eateries. The city’s many patisseries also prove that food as an art form is alive and well.

The French are famous for their food but if expats find that they get their fill of croissants and crème brûlée, they won't struggle to find restaurants offering international cuisines such as Chinese, Indian, Italian and Thai food. 


Outdoor activities in Paris

With a culture as serious about its leisure time as the French, it's no wonder that Paris has plenty to offer those looking to spend the day outdoors. The city’s climate is highly seasonal, though, so the outdoor activities available often depend on the time of year. 

Paris is home to a number of parks in which expats can enjoy leisurely strolls throughout the year. Parc de la Villette is a particular favourite, as throughout the summer months a large screen is put up in front of which anyone can relax and watch classic films. The selection usually includes English as well as French cinema, and a screening can be a great place to enjoy a picnic. While open-air movies aren't available in Paris during the winter, expats wanting to spend time outdoors during the frosty months can instead enjoy numerous ice-skating rinks around the city.

Kids and Family in Paris

Expat families in Paris will find that the city has a wonderful selection of attractions for parents and kids to enjoy together. With a range of theme parks, museums and outdoor attractions, France's capital city has something for everyone.


Entertainment for kids in Paris

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris first opened in 1992 and consists of two parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. Those who have been to either Disneyland or Disneyworld in the USA might be disappointed by the size of Disneyland Paris. However, it still offers plenty for the whole family to enjoy and is well worth the cost.

Just outside the gates of the theme park is the Disney Village, which leads to one of four resorts. A number of special events are held in the park for annual festivities, such as Halloween and Christmas. Walt Disney Studios is also geared toward children. Kids can ride on almost all of the rides without adults, making them kings of the park.

Musée Grévin (Paris Wax Museum)

The Musée Grévin is one of Europe's oldest wax museums and currently boasts a number of life-sized wax figures, from Leonardo da Vinci to Marilyn Monroe and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. This is a fun and unique outing for kids and parents to enjoy. The museum's Kids Discovery tour allows the young ones to learn about how wax artists bring famous personalities to life.

Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (Museum of Science and Industry)

Parc de la Villette, in the northern tip of the city, is a vast museum dedicated to learning about science in a fun way. The Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie regularly curates exhibitions designed to capture children's imaginations and adults' curiosities. Special exhibitions for younger children and young adults guarantee that no one in the family will be bored.

Jardin d'Acclimatation

This amusement park and garden hosts a house of mirrors, an archery range, a miniature golf course, zoo animals, a puppet theatre, shooting galleries and La Prévention Routiere, a miniature roadway operated by the Paris police. Expats worn out by all the attractions can always enjoy the garden, which is full of beautiful flowers and grassy areas to picnic, as well as a lagoon where boats can be rented.

Gaîté Lyrique

This modern cultural institution is devoted to exploring mixed-media and digital art forms. Located within a beautifully restored 19th-century theatre in the Marais neighbourhood, the Gaîté Lyrique has a rotating calendar of events ranging from music and multimedia performances, to design, fashion and architectural exhibitions. There is even an interactive room dedicated to video games. Older kids will enjoy the colourful and stimulating exhibits that often focus on aspects of play.

CinéAqua

Not far from the Eiffel Tower sits this state-of-the-art aquarium boasting the largest tank in France. Complete with projection rooms, live shows and hands-on workshops, children and parents alike will be entertained and educated about underwater life.

See and Do in Paris

Expats moving to Paris will certainly be familiar with some of the city’s iconic landmarks, but there are plenty more attractions to see in this romantic city and an equally impressive array of activities to pursue.

Expats can cruise along the Seine; spend an hour over coffee and cake at a sidewalk café; or watch the street performers in any of the many city squares. There are also some lesser-known museums and galleries to visit, as well as beautiful gardens to enjoy. 


Recommended attractions in Paris

Eiffel Tower

The first stop for any expat in Paris has to be the world-famous Eiffel Tower. Stunning panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed from its top observation deck.

Notre-Dame

Dating back to 1163 AD, the Gothic cathedral of Notre-Dame is a quintessential Paris landmark and is a wonderful attraction for expats to spend the day exploring.

Musée du Louvre

One of the world’s most famous art museums, the Louvre is a fascinating place for expats to discover the beautiful paintings, sculptures and antiquities that have made their way here from all over the globe.

Arc de Triomphe

The impressive Arc de Triomphe is a must-see for expats in Paris. The landmark is set within a star-shaped arrangement of picturesque avenues.

Musée Rodin

This museum features a collection of Auguste Rodin’s marble sculptures, some of the most famous being The Kiss and The Thinker. Paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir and Manet are also on display at the museum.

Jardin des Plantes

The expansive Jardin des Plantes is a beautiful botanical garden for expats to relax in. The more adventurous can also explore its labyrinth maze.

Les Invalides

Built by Louis XIV in 1670, Les Invalides dome is the burial site for many of France's war heroes, including the famous Napoleon Bonaparte.

Pompidou Centre

The ultramodern Pompidou Centre is home to the Musée National d'Art Moderne, as well as cinemas and theatres that host a variety of arts performances.

Musée d'Orsay

This is the place for expats to see a vast collection of art from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including art-nouveau, impressionist and post-impressionist pieces.

What's On in Paris

The City of Lights is alive throughout the year with a variety of festivals and celebrations. Some of the best annual events to attend in Paris are:


Annual events in Paris

World Circus Festival of Tomorrow (January/February)

Some of the world’s best circus performers gather at the World Circus Festival of Tomorrow (Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain), held in January each year, to put on a great show for young and old alike.

Paris Marathon (April)

The Paris Marathon welcomes runners from all around the globe who descend on the city to run 42.2km through famous landmarks like the Champs-Elysees, the Tuileries garden and the Place de la Bastille. For the less athletic expats, it's still worth being a spectator at the event.

Fête de la Musique (June)

This annual celebration commemorates the summer solstice by turning all of Paris into one big party. Countless bands and performers take to the streets, cafés and bars throughout the longest day of the year and the following night to celebrate music, life, love and all things Parisian.

Bastille Day (July)

Commemorating the French Revolution, Bastille Day is celebrated on 14 July each year with ceremonies, dancing, parties and balls at venues throughout the city.

Tour de France (July)

In July each year, the eagerly anticipated and much-publicised Tour de France cycle race rides into town.

Paris Banlieues Tango (November)

This vibrant festival transforms Paris into a tango extravaganza throughout November. Expats can enjoy numerous performances by some of the world’s best dancers, and they can also don their best dancing shoes and partake in the many lessons and workshops available around the city.

Frequently Asked Questions about Paris

Although Paris is often seen as a dream holiday destination moving to the city on a long-term basis can be daunting. Here are some frequently asked questions posed by prospective expats who are considering a move to Paris. 

How safe is Paris?

Pickpockets are the most common danger in Paris, especially as they tend to target foreigners. A person who bumps into another in a public place may well be searching their body for valuables. If spending a considerable amount of time in prime tourist areas, money should be kept in a variety of places, such as an ankle pouch, bag, and wallet. Taxis are also notorious for ripping off tourists so agree on a fare before getting in or insist that the driver use the meter.

Do I need a car?

No. Paris and France have the highest density of public transport in the world, making cars a real luxury. If personal transport is needed, the Velib bicycle system allows for rapid movement in areas not otherwise covered. Bicycles are well-respected and accommodated for on the roads. Using a combination of public transportation services can move a pedestrian around Paris faster than any car.

What is the cost of living in Paris?

The cost of living in Paris is one of the highest in the world. However, it must be said that a resident who knows the tricks of the city can live reasonably well without paying the same prices that tourists face. Salaries tend to match the high cost of living, and expats who manage to find employment in Paris will enjoy the highest salaries in France.

Do I need to be able to speak French?

While the large majority of people in Paris speak English, learning French will certainly help expats have a more fruitful experience. Locals will appreciate the effort which will help when it comes to building a social circle. Moreover, fluency in French is essential to success in the working world. While being able to speak a foreign language is a valuable skill, fluency in the local language gives expats the ability to form worthwhile interpersonal relationships and greater social networks in Paris.

How do I get around the city?

The train system is split in two. The Metro covers the city centre and the RER travels out into the suburbs. The Navigo smart card has replaced the Carte Orange that used to be the standard month-long pass. This pass allows the user onto any of the Parisian transport systems, including the subway, express trains, trams, buses and can even be used for the Velib bicycle system. 

The Navigo can be linked to a bank account which will then be charged every month, or it can be used as a pay-as-you-go smart card. A month pass for the whole of Greater Paris, zones 1-6, costs around EUR 125, but the price may vary according to which zones are crossed. For most expats living close to the city, a cheaper ticket for only zones 1 and 2 is sufficient.

Are Parisians rude?

Disturbing or interrupting Parisians often elicits a rude response, but this is certainly not unwarranted. Stopping people on the street is also sometimes followed by an irritated reaction. However, if help is needed, approaching a local store clerk in basic French will prove worthwhile and will usually make for a congenial encounter.

Parisians do not generally enjoy conversing in English. Expats are advised to learn as much French as possible. At a minimum, one must be able to say "Bonjour, parlez-vous Anglais?" (“Hello, do you speak English?”). More often than not this will elicit a helpful reply and will show the locals the respect they expect.

Getting Around in Paris

Getting around in Paris is easy and relatively inexpensive on the city’s extensive and efficient public transport network of buses, trains, Metro and trams. With public transport covering all corners of the city, there's really no need for expats to own a car in Paris. It's worth noting that driving in Paris can often be a hair-raising experience. 


Public transport in Paris

Most of the transport network in Paris is run by government-subsidised RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens). The rest of the RER and Transilien are run by the state-owned SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français), whose rail network covers the whole of France. Using the different transport systems interchangeably is relatively easy as tickets are usually valid across all systems.

Tickets

Public transport in Paris is divided into six zones, and prices vary depending on how many zones one travels across. Various packages are available. Which one an expat chooses will depend on the length of their stay in the city and the frequency of their travel on public transport.

For those staying in Paris long-term, the most cost-effective way of using public transport is to get a travel pass that allows unlimited travel on the Metro, RER and buses. These can be loaded on a weekly (Navigo Découverte) or monthly (Navigo Mensuel) basis and can be recharged at Navigo machines found in most Metro and RER stations. To buy a Navigo card, proof of address in Paris and a passport photo are needed

Tickets are also sold at kiosks and automated machines in Metro and RER stations. It's usually more economical to buy a package of 10 tickets (carnet de dix). Tickets have to be inserted at the turnstiles in the subway and RER stations or shown to the driver on a bus. Children under the age of four travel free, and kids aged four to 11 years are charged half price.

Metro

The lauded Paris Metro (Metropolitan) is one of the most extensive in the world, consisting of 16 lines and around 300 stations across the city. Metro stations are marked with a big 'M' or 'Metro' sign. Exits from stations are indicated by the white-on-blue sortie (exit) signs.  

Metro lines are identified on maps by number and colour, with the direction of travel indicated by the name of the destination terminal. Parisians usually refer to the line number. The Metro runs from 5.30am to 12.40am from Sunday to Thursday and 5.30am to 2.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Metro cars aren't air-conditioned, so in the hot summer months they can be extremely hot, especially during rush hour when they are jam-packed with commuters. Metro lines 1, 4 and 13 are normally the most congested during this time.

RER

The RER (Réseau Express Régional) is a network of regional trains that run through the heart of Paris into the suburbs of the city and throughout the wider Île-de-France region. The RER has five lines in Paris, labelled from A to E. Different branches of these lines are labelled by number.

The RER trains are faster than the Metro, but this is mostly because there are fewer stops along the way. This system runs daily from 5.30am to 1am, and links up and shares stations with the Metro in places.

In addition to the RER system, there are many suburban train lines (Transilien) departing from the main train stations.

Buses

Paris has a well-developed bus network, interconnecting all suburban areas. Bus routes are numbered and buses usually run from 6.30am to 9.30pm, some lines also run till midnight. Although buses cover a wider area than the Metro, they have to contend with traffic and can take considerably longer to reach their intended destination.

Night buses, known as Noctilien, usually operate hourly between 12.30am and 5.30am and every 30 minutes over weekends. Most of the lines leave from Place du Châtelet and serve the main Metro and RER stations as well as major streets.

Trams

The tram network in Paris has undergone development in recent years. The city currently has seven tram lines, some of which travel far into the suburbs. 


Taxis and ride-sharing services in Paris

Taxis in Paris are comparatively cheap and easy to hail on the street. They are visible by the sign on the roof of the car, which is lit up if they are vacant. There are also numerous taxi stations throughout the city and they can be booked ahead of time over the phone. Expats should be aware that the meter may start running from the moment the taxi driver heads to the pick-up point.

Ride-sharing services such as Uber are readily available in Paris. These can be a particularly helpful option for expats who can't speak French, as they lower the risk of miscommunication with drivers. 


Cycling in Paris

Paris has become a cyclist-friendly city, and cyclists are generally respected on the road. The city’s Velib bicycle hire scheme has made over 20,000 bicycles available at hire points across the city. A bicycle can be picked up at one point in the city and returned to another. Bicycles can be hired for a day or a week, allowing for an unlimited number of journeys during that time. More recently the scheme has expanded to include electric bikes, in an attempt to encourage a broader demographic to take up the more environmentally friendly option. 


Driving in Paris

Driving in Paris can be a scary experience. Traffic is often congested and finding parking can be frustrating and expensive, especially in popular tourist areas. Most Parisians don’t own cars, rather opting to use the city’s extensive public transport network. Expats driving in Paris who want to park on the streets will need a Paris Carte (prepaid card), as parking meters don’t take coins.