What you need to know to live in Paris!
The French Speak Little Or No English
Once you arrive in Paris, you will quickly realise that French people prefer to speak in their native tongue! Even though many French people speak English, you will find that you will need to learn some French to make yourself understood in supermarkets, restaurants and cafés. Luckily, your experience at Babylangues will help you make progress; you will be working with French families and will therefore be totally immersed in the language. You will pick up the language without even realising it! Babylangues also offers free French lessons to all its instructors, to help you learn the basics of the grammar and structure of the language, and to practice speaking with fellow learners.
Getting Around The City
Metro, Bus, Tram Or Bike
Paris is a big and busy city, so it’s important you know how to find your way around. One of the easiest ways to do this is by metro (the Paris underground) – the stations are marked with a big yellow ‘M’ and there are maps in every station, so you won’t get lost. It’s a good idea to take a quick look at the metro map before you go out, so you know which lines to take. There are also regular buses and trams in certain parts of Paris. You can buy tickets that are valid for all types of transport at any metro station, bus or tram stop. If you prefer to travel by bike, you can also use the Paris city bike hire, called vélib. You will spot these green or blue bikes all over Paris, and it’s an inexpensive and easy way to get around – the majority of the city has very good two-way cycle lanes for you to use.
Explore Paris On Foot
Paris is a beautiful city, so one of the best ways to explore is by wandering the streets and taking the time to stop and see the sights. Invest in a good pair of trainers or walking shoes, and you can spend hours finding all the most picturesque spots. You’ll be surprised how far you can move and how much you can see by walking around the city! Paris has lots of small streets and hidden corners that you only spot when you travel by foot.
The Cost Of Living Is Affordable
You may be surprised to find that your living costs won’t be too high, despite the price of rent. You can move around by public transport, by bike or on foot, and you’ll find everything you need in your neighbourhood. You can buy a baguette at a bakery for just 1 euro, and there are lots of cheap supermarkets and groceries where you can buy food and household items at a low price. Markets are also common, especially on Sundays, and they often sell high-quality local produce at a low price – it’s also a great way to experience French culture.
Rent in Central Paris Is High
There’s no hiding it – rent in central Paris is likely to be very expensive, even if you’re only looking for a small studio or a houseshare. You can always find cheaper rent in the outer suburbs of the city (outside the main ringroad), and there are more rooms available. If you want to live in the centre of Paris, you may have to compromise on size. Look for the smaller attic rooms, with shared kitchens or bathrooms, as these are often significantly cheaper than regular studios.
Opening A Bank
What Documents Do You Need To Open A Bank?
It’s a good idea to get set up with a bank account as soon as you arrive, so that you can avoid conversion fees and start paying rent and bills from your French account. Be aware that opening a bank may take as long as 2 or 3 weeks, as you may have to have multiple meetings before it can be set up. You should choose which bank to open your account with, and book an appointment with them. You will need a copy of your passport and your visa if you have one, plus proof of residency such as a rental contract or utility bill in your name. You may be also be required to make an initial deposit of a certain amount in order to be able to open the account.
Help With Opening A Bank
If you’re struggling to open a bank for whatever reason, Babylangues can help! We have a partnership with the BNP Paribas branch near our offices, so if you’d like to get your account set up you can contact a member of our team – we are all bilingual so we can help with French administration. You will need to book an appointment with the bank and then come into the office to get certain documents from us first.
Healthcare Costs Are Low
It’s amazing how cheap and accessible healthcare is in France! The standard price of a medical consultation with a GP in Paris is only €25, regardless of whether or not you have social security in France. Make sure you search for doctors that are conventionné secteur 1 to access this standard price. You can download a very useful app called Doctolib, which can be used to search for medical practices in your postcode, and to book appointments. It will even send you appointment reminders! If you want to get reimbursements for your healthcare, you can make an application for a French social security number. Babylangues can also do this application for you (but you will probably need to open a French bank account before you can do this).
France Uses The Metric System
You may come from a country which uses a metric system, in which case you’re already ahead and this doesn’t apply to you! However, if you’re American or British, you may be used to imperial measurements, and it may be a good idea to learn the differences before you arrive, or keep a note of the conversions from imperial to metric in a notebook or on your phone. Take care to make the distinction between grams and kilograms, or you may find yourself with slightly more (or less!) than you bargained for. And don’t forget that the weather forecast will be in degrees Celsius, not Fahrenheit!