Moving to France can be a big step and it is easy to fall back on the local ex-pat community when you first arrive. To really integrate with your new community, you need to make some good French friends, but how can you go about meeting them?
Be where the French people are
It seems obvious that you need to join a club or get involved in local events to meet local French people, but this can often seem daunting. If you have children, the playground is a great place to meet other parents and start to arrange play dates.
If you play a sport or have a hobby, ask about the local clubs at the mairie (town hall) or search online. Small towns and villages often hold an open day when you can sign up with an association. Volunteering for local events is another smart way to make friends; alternatively, try something as simple as drinking coffee in the local cafe every day – people will soon get to know who you are and say hello.
Be aware of cultural differences
Do you remember from school French the way the French use a formal ‘vous’ and an informal ‘tu’? Be guided by the people you meet as to when you can drop the more formal means of address, which is usually a good indication that your friendship is progressing well!
Don’t expect to be on first name basis instantly and be careful what you talk about – asking how much your French friends earn is frowned on! Take your cue from monsieur and madame and save the enthusiasm for when you know each other better. On the other hand, do have an open door policy and be prepared to offer at least a cup of coffee or an aperitif depending on the time of day!
Brush up your French
Before you even start looking for property for sale in France using a resource such as http://www.frenchpropertysearch.com/, start learning familiar French. Reading blogs or watching TV shows is a great way of doing this.
Being informed or even going on a language exchange before you make the move can be the best way to hit the ground running with the language and can be the best way to approach making new friends with confidence!