MOVING TO FRANCE: Some Dos and Don’ts for the First Week

This week I joined my girlfriend in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France where I will be staying for at least a year. It’s been a crazy week, from the transatlantic flight to hectic transit in Paris and a 6 hour road-trip across the country, but I’ve finally made it here. Every day has been a learning experience and I’d like to share a few dos and don’ts with anyone who might be dreaming of moving to France. DO take a flight to Paris rather than a less common destination. It will cost less and probably be more direct. Besides, you can visit Paris! DON’T take a taxi from Charles de Gaules airport. There is a perfectly good suburban train called the RER that will take you to the heart of the city where an elegant and efficient metro, bus, and tramway system is just waiting to be discovered. DO plan on getting a furnished apartment if you’re moving to the central area of any city small or large in France. Imagine backing up a rental moving truck into 10 feet wide streets and levering a queen-size bed up to a third story balcony in 32º C (very hot). Not fun! DON’T bother trying to make calls with pay-phones. Europe sort of stopped using them around the time cell-phones came out. They’re few and far between, they don’t accept coinage and a 7,50 Euro calling card will buy about 35 minutes of local calls. Try to have a cell-phone will some kind of international minutes. After you can switch to a French phone. DO make sure you have credit or debit card that works in France. VISA is the best bet as AMEX and MC are not accepted in many places. Look into money transfers between Europe and your country (Paypal costs next to nothing). It will take about 3 weeks to get a French bank account as there is lots of paperwork to fill out and they do extensive identity checks. Also you need a French bank account before getting a cellphone or internet subscription so get on that fast! Of course I also suggest a few leisure activities to lighten the mood in between all the stressful bureacracy : DO check out covoiturage.fr to find out about rideshares around the country. It costs less than the TGV (fast train) and you get to see the countryside. DON’T wait an hour and a half at the main entrance to the Louvre (the one under the giant glass pyramid). Use the little known porte des lions (smaller entrance with lion statues guarding it that most people don’t know about). This is top secret. Now that I’m settled in the south and the paperwork is well underway I can sit by the window, listen to the bustle of the térasses in the street below and enjoy some Côte de Provence rosé. Next week, job hunt ! This was a guest post by Tripper Robert in Aix-en-Provence.  You can connect with Robert via his Tripping profile.  Happy travels!