The city of love, a place of wonder, where Hemmingway lay his hat and the morning air is a constant breeze of fluffy bread, buttered pastries and delectable sweet delights. The rumours are true, Paris is a moveable feast.

The close of Summer 2019 saw me packing up my West London life, saying goodbye to my comforts, friends and family and taking on a new adventure with my work in this metropolitan madness.

Having just passed my one year anniversary here I realise I have learned a LOT about the challenges (and rewards) that come with being an expat in a country where you don’t speak the language. There have been many ups some (lock)downs and everything in between.

This may not be the definitive guide to moving to this shimmering city (google search warrants the clickbait)…but I hope it’s a few basic and key points that will help you as I fumbled my way through learning as I went along.

moving to paris without speaking french

MOVING TO PARIS WHEN YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH

The first 3 months are difficult, really difficult. You will struggle to understand basic questions, people will get frustrated with you, you’ll want to give up…but don’t. It’s incredibly important to remain as patient as possible when learning a new language and the good news is, you will get there. Now after spending 8 months (I excluded lockdown in the UK) in Paris I can comfortably say I went from knowing nothing. To confidently and comfortably reserving a table, visiting the pharmacist, going to aesthetician appointments, being at the grocery store and asking for things and more. Even if I don’t understand the full sentence I can now hear key words to react to the question appropriately.

  1. If you can afford to – get lessons. They will help you with the basics to accelerate your integration. Also watch Netflix in French with English subtitles!
  2. Keep goggle translate on your home page – using this helps you learn a little a day when you’re forced to find the translation for something
  3. Don’t surround yourself with other expats! Integrate as much as you can in to French circles
  4. Listen to podcasts like Coffee Break French, buy books like Learn French with Paul Noble – snackable sources of information really helped me pick things up! 

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