Moving to Paris: A 10 Step Guide
Paris is the capital of France. With more than 2 million inhabitants, the city of lights is hosting millions of tourists, every single year. Discovering Paris is just like a leap back into the past and at the same time, be grounded in the present. The city is known for its cultural heritage, monuments, parks and gardens, restaurants… Whether you are a tourist, student or looking for a job, there are several reasons for coming to Paris and here is a ten-step guide on what you need to know when moving here.
Step 1: Visa & Legal Information
Before moving to France you’d better to get some information about Visa obligation, since not to be surprised. So, basically any nationals of EU Member States, the EEA or Switzerland are not subject to the entry and stay Visa requirements. (Unless you are exempt, you are required to have a Visa)
To apply for a Visa you will need to contact the French Embassy or consulate in your country where you currently reside. We do recommend that you to visit the official website to get specific information according to your situation.
There are several types of Visas defined by the French diplomacy:
- Short-stay Visa: this is if you will be staying in the country for less than 90 days
- Long-stay Visa: this is if you plan to move to Paris for work or to study.
Go to this link to apply for a Visa.
Step 2: Accommodation
There are many different places to stay when visiting Paris although; you must take into account a variety of factors.
There are 20 arrondissements in Paris, all of which have their own features. Living in Paris is expensive and you will need to research different options.
You can find global information in English about housing in Paris on this website.
Whether you move to Paris to live/work or to study, there are several accommodation options, each with its own advantages. Below, you will find a selection of accommodation options:
- Flat share/colocation: LIVE and STUDY
Flat shares or house shares have an advantage, as they can be a lot cheaper: you share common parts for example; kitchen, bathroom, toilets, living room and you have your own private room. Moreover, it allows you to make friends and to have contacts in the city. Below, you will find a selection of websites, which will help you to find a flat share;
- Single apartment/studio: LIVE or STUDY
This option seems to be better if you plan to live in Paris and work there. Indeed, the rental price is quite expensive in Paris and you have to include bills, food and other things necessary to live.
(Please note; legally, 3 months before you move out of a property in France, you have to send a letter to your Landlord notifying him of this)
- Student Accommodation: STUDY
You have to comply with some rules in order to gain student accommodation. If you are a student moving to France, you need to be in an exchange program or to be a foreign government-grant recipient to have the possibility to choose this option.
Go to the links below to research more about accommodation in Paris:
- http://fr.welchome.com/flateshare-houseshare/FR-France/paris?oa_code=167350615 http://www.leboncoin.fr/colocations/offres/ile_de_france/paris/ (FR)
Step 3: Transport
There are several efficient ways to travel within Paris. It is more common to travel in Paris by using the underground. Indeed, you avoid circulation and the hub is well organized to allow you to join the place you want. But people are also used to travel by bus if the journey is not very long.
You can rely on these websites to plan your journeys in Paris and for a daily use:
Examples of public transports
- Subway: the subway system in Paris is managed by RATP
- (There are 14 different lines)
- Tram: there are 7 tramway lines available in Paris.
- RER (Réseau Express Régional)/Railway: this is a popular form of transport.
- (5 RER and 8 railways in Ile-de-France area.)
- Bus: (64 buses lines in Paris, 1 450 in Ile France) To use it, you just need to buy a ticket or to use your Navigo pass.
- Airports: accessibility from Paris via car, railway and RER to Roissy Charles de Gaulles airport and to Orly airport.
- Vélib’: this is a cool and easy-to-use way of transport in Paris. It is available 24h/24 and 7d/7.
- Navigo pass can be purchased which covers underground, buses, trams and railways.
- Tickets can be purchased for the underground, RER, tramway, buses (except Orlybus and Roissybus) which are usually around 1.70€
Concerning fares and payments, it is simple: if you plan to live in Paris for a year, it is better for you to get a yearly Navigo pass, as you will save money. If you plan to stay several months, you should buy a monthly pass. You need to buy a short-term ticket or to make a yearly subscription. You have to subscribe to the service and there are many different special offers available! Remember: the first 30 minutes of your journey is FREE and then you start t pay after that.
Step 4: Working in Paris
If you are coming to France to work then it is vital that you have access to government’s programmes and benefits and you have to register for this through the French administration. The minimum wage in France is currently 9.53€ per hour.
Citizen from the EEE or Switzerland
You can work in France as you don’t need any Visa or work permit. You do however; need to provide the following; For work purposes you will need to have a contract or a statement written by your employer stating that you will be hired. For nonemployees, you will require an official document proving that you have a long-term activity and for service providers you will require a commercial document like a service contract.
Citizen from Croatia
You will need a residence permit (except for Croatians who have an equivalent Master degree). For work purposes, you will have to apply for a work permit (don’t worry, your employer does it). For nonemployees, before you start your activity, you will need to get a specific document: a residence permit called UE – Toutes Activités Professionnelles Sauf Salariées. For service providers, you will need to get a residence permit called UE – Prestataire de Services.
If you want to work as employee in France, you will need to get a work permit. It can be a Visa, a Residence Permit that allows you to work or a specific document which is not related to residence.
Please see this link for help with planning to work in France.
Once you have this all sorted and have the right to work in France, there are several options:
- You can find a job before moving to France so everything is done by your company in order to give you the right and the means to work in France.
- You can register to the French Pôle Emploi, a kind of national job bank: you need to have a work and residence permit, declare being actively looking for a job, to justify your identity, to attend personally.
Please use the links below to help you find a job in France.
If you are a Student looking for work in France, please use this link.
Step 5: Health care in Paris
The French health coverage is called Social Security. It reimburses a part of your medical spending.
- If you are European
You have a European Health Insurance Card then you are covered by the Sickness Insurance Primary Fund.
- If you are not European
People who come to France to study are required to register for Student Social Security Regime: to beneficiate Social Security, you have to be less than 28 years old, to be registered in a higher education establishment who’s affiliated to Social Security and have a residence permit.
(Also, if you have a private insurance certificate then you are covered by this insurance)
Please see this link for information on Student Social Security Regimes in Paris.
To benefit from health coverage, if you are employee in France, your employer needs to register you on the CPAM which is the Sickness Insurance Primary Fund.
There are two options when in France, you can either call a Doctor and make an appointment or just turn up.
Each Doctor is situated in each borough of Paris. You can find a specific doctor on this link.
Do not worry if you do not get registered with a practice as there are more than 4500 general doctors in Paris so there will always be one available and the general appointment price is 23€.
There is an International Medical Centre located in Paris which is open from Monday until Saturday with a multilingual staff (English, French, Spanish and German). Please see this link for information on Doctors and Surgeries in France.
In Paris, the AP-HP which means Public Assistance – Paris Hospitals is a regional hospital centre for Paris and the region Ile-de-France. There are 37 hospitals spread throughout 12 hospitals groups:
- Saint-Louis Lariboisière Fernand-Widal Hospital
- La Pitié Salpêtrière-Charles Foix Hospital
- Henri Mondor Hospital
- Robert-Debré University Hospital
- Paris Nord Val de Seine University Hospital
- Paris-Ouest University Hospital
- Paris-Seine-Saint-Denis University Hospitals
- Paris Centre University Hospital
- Paris Ile-de-France Ouest University Hospital
- Paris-Sud University Hospital
- Necker-Enfants malades University Hospital
- Est Parisien University Hospital
There are 2 private hospitals in the Paris area with many English speaking staff: the American Hospital and the Hertford Franco-British hospital.
Please see the below for information on useful emergency telephone numbers;
- 15: SAMU which is the Emergency medical assistance service in France
- 112: European emergency phone number
- 18: Fire Brigade
- 17: Police emergency
Step 6: Money and Bills
The currency used in France is the Euro. There are a variety of coins: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 euro, 2 euros and a large number of banknotes: 5€, 10€, 20€, 50€, 100€, 200€, 500€.
Be careful when carrying cash around with you. It is possible to use your credit card almost everywhere.
Below are listed the average costs in Paris to give you an idea of how much money you will require.
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 7€
- Sandwich: 3€
- 1L of Milk: 0,90€
- Loaf of Bread: 0,86€
- Average Local Transport: 1,70€
- 1L of Petrol: 1,40€
- Ticket at the Cinema: 9,4€
- A hotel room: 81€
- Average rent (per m2): 29,43€ (this can vary dependant upon the area)
If you will be in France for more than 3 months then it is acceptable to open a bank account. You will require the following documents to do so; a passport, proof of address (a document where your address is mentioned) and a residence card. Once you have undertaken all the administrative formalities, you will pay a certain amount for using your credit card and you will receive a cheque book.
There are many different banks in France, please see the list below; Société Générale, BNP Paribas, LCL, HSBC, Barclays, Crédit Agricole, CIC, Banque Populaire, La Banque Postale, Caisse d’Epargne.
Step 7: Food
France is well-known for the food and its variety of products and each region has its own specialities. Some of the most popular meals include the duck fillet/magret de canard, veal-stew/blanquette de veau, leg of lamb/gigot d’agneau, burgundy beef stew/boeuf bourguignon, ratatouille, tartiflette, quiche Lorraine, pot-au-feu, gratin dauphinois, choucroute, galette au sarazin, Parmentier minced-meat/hachis parmentier, rabbit in a mustard sauce/lapin à la moutarde or bouillabaisse.
Don’t worry if you don’t enjoy a varied selection of food, there are thousands of restaurants in the capital and there is something for every taste!
Please see the links below for information on restaurants in Paris;
There are many Markets in Paris which sell fresh products for purchasing. They are generally open from 7am until 2.30pm of a weekday and 7am until 3pm on the weekends. Please see this link for information on Markets in Paris.
Step 8: Social
There are several customs and etiquettes in France, firstly it is polite to formally shake hands of the person you are meeting for the first time or even kiss the person lightly on both of their cheeks. It depends on the place and the situation you are in, for example; when you are invited over to someone’s home, French people usually bring a gift such as flowers or a bottle of wine, this is only a custom and not a necessity. Also, when dining out, it is common to give a few tips to the waiter.
There are many different ways to meet people and make friends in France. If you are student, you will be able to socialise with other students. This could be by going to Erasmus parties (Erasmus-Party) or parties organized by your University/School. You can also join associations of your interests. If you are working in France you will be able to liaise with colleagues in the work place. Please see this link for information on meeting new people and making friends in France.
Step 9: Sightseeing
Paris is one of the most touristic places in the world. Each year, 32.3 million tourists come to the big city to discover all the treasures of Paris. There are a lot of parks, monuments, museums and galleries… Here are some of the best sights and attractions you may wish to visit when in Paris:
- Eiffel Tower: this is the symbol of the city of lights. It is approximately 324m high and it is possible to go to the top of the monument by stairs or elevator.
- Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre: this is located on the top of the Buttle Montmartre, you have a great panorama view of the city. A lot of people sit on the steps and enjoy the view.
- Tour Montparnasse: this offers a stunning view of Paris. There is a panoramic terrace on the 56th floor which provides the perfect place for a global view of monuments and architecture of Paris.
Paris offers an array of Museums of different varieties. Please see below for a list of the Museums on offer in the capital.
National Museum: Louvre Museum, Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Musée du Luxembourg, Orsay Museum, Rodin Museum, Musée du Quai Branly, Grand Palais, Palais de Tokyo
Exhibition Centres: Maison Européenne de la photographie, Institut du Monde Arabe, Pinacothèque de Paris, Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design
Please see *for information on travel, tourism and sightseeing in Paris.
Step 10: Culture & Language
Paris attracts a lot of people coming from worldwide. They meet and live together in the city of lights. Its Latin legacy is very strong. Some areas concentrate on specific cultures. African culture is well represented in Paris; people come from sun-Saharan Africa or Maghreb in areas such as Goutte d’Or, Belleville or Barbès. Château Rouge is the more African area of Paris. There are also 3 Chinese areas in Paris, in the 13th district, in Belleville and also near Rue au Maire. Indian culture is also well known in Paris with the “Little India” in Faubourg-Saint-Denis.
When it comes to the religion, you have to take into consideration that France is a laic country, which means that it is independent from religious organizations. France does have an important Christian heritage. In Paris, you can find a lot of churches but also Buddhist pagodas, a Hindu temple, mosques and synagogues.
When working in Paris, you need to speak French but speaking another language such as English is really appreciated since there are a lot of tourists and foreigners living in the capital.
When moving to France, there are opportunities for immigrants to take language classes to improve their French. Living in flat shares or in hosting families can be helpful too, to improve your French.
For more information about registering for these courses, please visit some of the links below;