France at a Glance
Moving to France
Moving to France might require some planning and organization, but the effort will pay off. The country benefits from its central position in continental Europe, as well as its excellent transportation links to all neighboring countries and between French cities. All this makes relocating to France and its various regions very convenient.
While most expats moving to France do so for business reasons, the country is also a popular destination for pensioners. They settle in France because of its high quality of life, its social welfare policies, and its good healthcare system. For the same reason, many other European nationals keen on working abroad move to France in order to try their luck – despite relatively high unemployment rates of around 10%.
A lot of immigrants, mainly from Portugal and Slavic countries, were moving to France between the two World Wars. More recently, increasing numbers of migrants from North Africa and Asia started to move to France. Immigration, particularly from some Eastern European countries, has become a sensitive political issue.
This is especially the case since the government made the controversial decision to deport Roma in 2010. While there are several legislative measures in place to regulate the numbers of immigrants moving to France, they hardly not affect EU expats or skilled professionals coming to France from overseas.
The French Language
French is the only official language of the country. If you want to make the most of your expat experience, you should have at least a basic command of French. Although most people in France are able to communicate in another language, they might not always feel comfortable doing so.
Some French people have very strong feelings about their language and might insist that foreigners speak French when they opt for moving to France. There is constant concern about the “Anglicisation” of their language among the French. Although English is spoken in multi-national companies, French is the main language of business: Make sure to find out what sort of language skills will be expected from you before moving to France.
Geography and Climate
Metropolitan (i.e. continental) France covers an area of more than 530,000 m², excluding Corsica and France´s overseas territories. If you consider moving to France´s central and eastern parts, you will encounter a continental climate, with increasingly hot summers the further south you go.
You should be prepared for an oceanic climate making for rainier and cooler conditions, particularly in the northwestern areas of Normandy and Brittany. Those living on France’s south coast enjoy a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters.
Population estimates in 2013 range around 66 million for Metropolitan France, which consists of 21 administrative regions plus Corsica. However, some of these regions suffer from heavy population losses. More and more people prefer France´s vast metropolitan areas, which have developed around the big cities.
This mass exodus to urban centers is a widespread, yet relatively recent phenomenon, which has resulted in about 85% of the total population now residing in towns and cities. Not surprisingly, most expats and immigrants also settle in one of the major cities.