Making the Transition from France to London
By Adam Stokes
The bread, the wine, the cheese. You’ve decided to leave it all behind for jellied eels, hot cross buns and roast beef dinners – but London isn’t all about the food… we’ve got rain here too! We decided to get in touch with three of our favourite French bloggers – Alex, Stephanie and Jean-Remi – and gather all their inside knowledge on how to best acclimatize to the British capital. From food to finances and streets to sites, below you’ll find everything you need to know from experienced French expats on how to settle down and enjoy London.
Alex is a self-confessed French dude who’s been in the capital for almost half a decade now. He publishes useful tips and stories about his goings on in London, as well as photos and videos, too. He also likes to tackle any relevant issues regarding London, and so his blog Un Français à Londres always worth a good read! Check out his Facebook page for more!
Stephanie is part of Voilà Londres, who are dedicated to sharing free, cheap and quirky things to do for French people living in London. They acknowledge the need for a French speaking community in London, and try their best to make you feel as close to home as possible while still feeling the excitement of being away. Check out Voilà Londres’s Facebook page.
Jean Remi founded French in London in 2006, and hasn’t looked back since! As a journalist, it is his mission to bring a whole host of tips, deals and travel and tourist information to all you expats in London. Check out French in London’s Facebook page.
Surviving the Capital
Stepping straight of the plane, boat or train can be one of the most overwhelming feelings you can ever face, that’s why it’s good to get some advice from someone who’s been through the exact same thing. We asked Alex for his most essential tips on sorting your finances, travelling back home on a budget and surviving in the concrete jungle!
- Best Money Saving Tip? “If you need to transfer money to or from your bank account abroad, don’t use your bank, use Transferwise. It’s the best money transfer service for us expats.” -Your first payment will be free up to £3,000.
- Any Travelling Tips? “If you’re thinking of going back home, then plan it as soon as you can and it won’t cost much!”
- General advice? “Don’t fall in the trap of going to French group meetings in London. This is the biggest mistake you’ll ever make and you’ll never progress with your English.”
Other Survival Tips…
#1 Cut down costs and get a bike
#2 Buy a Taste Card for major discounts on food
#3 Walk and explore the town whenever you can
Finding Good Grub
When it comes to food, Stephanie knows exactly where will tickle your taste buds, some even just like home. Below are some of the best budget eateries and markets London has to offer, with food from France and Italy, as well as traditional English stuff too!
- Best Budget Café? “Arancina in Notting Hill Gate is an authentic Italian cafe with a daily changing menu. A slice of pizza costs about £4 and an arancini (risotto balls stuffed with other ingredients) is less than £3”
- Best French Restaurant? “The best French restaurant in town has got to be La Petite Bretagne in Hammersmith. It’s a nice, small, authentic restaurant where you can eat savoury and sweet crepes. Plus, it is really cheap (about £8/main)”
- Favourite Market for French Products? “Go to Camden Lock Market for the duck confit burger, an amazing mix of French and British gastronomy. Only served on weekends.”
Other great eateries…
#1 La Petite Auberge in Angel for honest French food
#2 Albion Café in Shoreditch for fresh breads, scones and cakes
#3 Hummus Bros in Soho for a range of continental foods
All the Best Spots
Okay, so you know how to look after yourself and where to eat, but what about where to rest and play? Jean-Remi gave us the low down on all the hot spots throughout the capital – for living as well as going out. With London being so huge, it’s important that you get to settle down in the perfect spot. So, where’s good?
- Best Place to Live? “Baker Street. I love living there. It’s minutes from Regent’s Park and Oxford Circus which has loads of big shops. It is also easy to reach the Eurostar Station from there. I Love it.”
- What about going out? “Brick Lane and Shoreditch are without doubt the most exciting place to go out. Cool bars, nice clubs, and you don’t always have to be dressed as a hipster to enjoy your night!”
Other Top Spots
#1 South Kensington if you want to bump into other French locals
#2 Islington for the young and the lively
#3 Camden has all the parks, restaurants and supermarkets you’ll need, and great transport links too
Browsing the Web
Finally, we asked Alex, Stephanie and Jean-Remi what their top websites were for job and room searches…
- Indeed (Jobs)
- Easyroommate (Rooms)
- Spareroom (Rooms)
- Gumtree (Jobs & Rooms)
- Moveflat (Rooms)
- Fish4 (Jobs)
You can try any of the above for great room and job search options. Well? Get clicking and you’ll be shaping your new London life in no time!
We hope that Alex, Stephanie and Jean-Remi have provided you with enough wisdom to offer you an insight of exactly what it’s like as an expat. Their Tips for the French moving to London should give you everything you need to know about life over here, so if you’re living in France and thinking of relocating to London, then take the leap and see what you’re missing out on! It might not be as scary as you might think. Check out our Living in London Guide for more.
Popular French Facebook groups and pages to Like:
Le Cercle des Francais a Londres
So Frenchie / French Community in London
London French Touch
French in London
The French Society of London
France in London
Soiree London Calling
France 2 Londres
French Radio London
Know any Spaniards? Tell them to check out our Tips for Spaniards Living in London, so they can feel just as clued up as you!