top of page

Making friends in France

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

When you travel to a new country, it may be extremely challenging to establish acquaintances outside of the context of your employment. The following is a guide on meeting people and establishing friends in France.

When you go to parties as a foreigner who lives abroad, you could get the impression that you are difficult to chat to. However, this does not exclude the possibility of using it to establish French acquaintances while you are in France.

Making the effort

How often do you find yourself at a party with someone whose English isn't quite up to standard, and how do you handle the situation? You really have to put forth some effort to speak to them, but you're a good person, so you do it anyway. It doesn't matter how kind your heart is; after a time, the effort required to attempt to make yourself known and the pointless small talk will wear you down. In France, when you encounter a foreigner, you should make excuses, find some buddies, and go on to the next person. It has never really bothered me to feel that way about it. To this point.

At this party, guests were dressed up as Cyndi Lauper, a Spice Girl, the cast of Baywatch, and even my own hopelessly unstylish teenage years. Despite my frizzy hair and crop top, I was the center of attention, along with my Backstreet Boy fiancé who had taken a bad turn in life.

Don't get me wrong—the individuals that lived there were wonderful, so please don't misunderstand me. They went out of their way to talk to us, which is more than a lot of other individuals would have done in the same circumstance.

A bit too much work

But there is always going to be the odd individual that takes a physical intake of breath when they see you coming; those who grin as you chat to them and then excuse themselves to buy a canapé and then never come back again are examples of this. They are familiar with one another, and you are not only a stranger to them but also an additional burden on their efforts.

It was curiously simpler after I recognized that the reason my scrunchie wasn't offending everyone who had style in the room wasn't that it was giving offence to them. I've experienced things from the other viewpoint, and I can assure you that none of it is personal.

We quickly concluded that some individuals were not avoiding us because they did not want to trouble themselves with us but rather because they were embarrassed that their English was not good enough. However, they gradually became less anxious once we took an effort to communicate with them in French. We discovered that differences in language do not prevent people from connecting over the shared love of high-waisted shorts.

At the end of the night, as the drinks continued to be served, we were having a blast playing Singstar and chatting with a linguistics student about the challenges of correctly pronouncing the French letter 'r'. Success!

Making new friends in France

We were well aware that it would be difficult for us to make acquaintances in France. After the age of 21, which is considered to be the end of the "formal friend-making years," it is very difficult to make new acquaintances in any setting. No matter where we moved, we would have been forced to face this challenge, and it would have been exceptionally difficult to do so while maintaining acquaintances from back home. But when you factor in the fact that you don't have a strong command of yet another language, in addition to the fact that you're part of a couple, work from home as freelancers, and communicate with each other in English, it becomes clear that making friends is going to require a significant amount of work on your part.

Although it would have been simpler for us to remain separate from one another and not engage in discussion, we chose to rent homes via Airbnb instead. When we were in Montpellier, we ended ourselves sharing an apartment with two great gentlemen, and they had a rule that went like this: "we speak English, and you speak French." Everyone was able to hone their skills in this manner. They were not only wonderful hosts, but for over a week, they were real friends in France as well.

After that, a few weeks later, we came to their party with the theme of the 1990s, in which we were going to meet only individuals from France. And we were going to dress up in a style that was a cross between Saved by the Bell and Backstreet Boys doing an Eminem impersonation.

Therefore, we're just getting started here. It wouldn't be healthy for us to cling to our two new buddies we made in France like we're insane.

French classes

The next week, we would begin taking French courses. In addition to enhancing our linguistic abilities, we are looking forward to the possibility of interacting with interesting new individuals. There is a strong likelihood that they won't speak English, which means that we'll probably have to communicate using a little rusty version of French. Perfect.

There are a few more courses that pique my interest. They will keep me busy and force me to step away from the computer when I don't need to be there. This may provide an excellent chance to meet others who have similar interests as you. During one of the first Festivals, we saw some clumsy attempts at salsa being performed on stage. We concluded that our best bet for making new acquaintances in France was to enroll in some dance courses.

We have also decided, at least for the time being, to forego having our apartment and instead move in with a large group of other individuals. We were oversharing washing machines and squabbling over whose turn it was to take out the garbage, so we desired to move into our apartment. However, the fact that we get to talk with our French roommates and that we get to play pétanque on a Sunday evening makes it all worthwhile. In addition to that, our home is a castle. Bonus.

The expat community

We've already met a huge group of Californians who all work in the same Irish bar, and we're aware that Montpellier is home to a sizeable population of expatriates. Finally, there's another group of individuals who are the same as us: the expats. Even if the language that will most likely be spoken is English, it will still be wonderful to have individuals there with whom you have something in common.

For anyone else who finds themselves in this predicament, here is some sound advice: Ignore any feelings that you are the Borat of the group. If you put in the effort, you'll make friends even if you screw up and seem like an idiot in the process.

I would be very interested in hearing about any other expats who have had experiences comparable to mine.



bottom of page