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What to do when you arrive to France?

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Hello and Welcome to France!

Wow, you're finally in France! Exciting times ahead! It's the perfect French welcome!

France has so much to see, from the tall Alps and Pyrenees mountains to the busy streets of Paris. Now, all these incredible places are yours to explore. You're part of France now, no matter where you decide to settle.

Your first few days here might feel like a whirlwind. New places, new folks, and maybe a new language – it's a lot, but you've got this! Here's a simple checklist to help you start your first week in France.

  1. Find a New Home in France


  • Time to find your new home in France! If your job doesn't provide housing assistance, don't worry – many rental options are available. Whether looking for an apartment or a house, websites like Se Loger or Le Bon Coin are great resources to explore what's out there.

  1. Register with the French Government

  • If you're outside the EU, head to the local prefecture to get your 'carte de séjour.' Do this within two months of arriving.

  • EU folks can also get a 'carte de séjour' from the town hall. It's not required, but it can make things easier.

  • British people who've moved after Brexit will need this card too. Keep up with the latest on the Accueil des Étrangers website.

  1. Sign Up for Health Insurance

  • Everyone in France needs health insurance. You'll probably use the national health service, PUMA. But if you want more coverage, check out private options like Allianz or Cigna Global.

  1. Open a Bank Account

  • A local bank account makes life easier for paying bills and daily shopping. Big banks like BNP Paribas and Societe Generale are good options, and mobile banks like Bunq and N26 are good.

  1. Get a French SIM Card

  • To stay in touch, pick up a French SIM card. You can choose a prepaid one or sign up for a plan. Providers like Lebara, Orange, and Prixtel offer different plans.

  1. Look for a Job

  • If you're still searching for a job in France, now's the time to get proactive. Give your resume a fresh update, and dive into your job search. Explore various job agencies and online job boards to find opportunities that align with your skills and interests.

  1. Figure Out Transportation

  • Conversely, living in the countryside often means a car is necessary. If you're from the EU, your driver's license is suitable to go, but if you're from elsewhere, you might need to secure an international driving license.

  1. Set Up Your Home

  • Once you find a place, set up your utilities and home services. There are many internet, TV, and utility providers to choose from.

  1. School for Kids

  • If you have kids, start thinking about schools. There are many choices for public, international, or other types of schools. Getting them registered early is essential.

  1. Enjoy France

Last but not least, have fun and explore France! Check out local cafes, try French foods, and get to know your neighbourhood. 

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