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Hitchicking back to France?

Are the French going to leave the Big Smoke?

By Berlioz Deborah

During the last few decades, a vast number of French people came to fill London's banks and pubs, so many in fact, that the city has even come to be known as "the fifth French city". But the crisis came, and the fall of the pound is threatening their sweet “so British” life. Has the time come for French Londoners to journey back home?

No doubt about it, at the time of its great expansion, London was the place to be. The City was one of the strongest financial places in the world, and the capital offered the best in terms of career, salaries and lifestyle. It was easy to find a job and easy to climb the career ladder. To a young French person with money and success on their mind, there was no comparison between this city of opportunity and France where years were often needed before obtaining a promotion. And lets not forget the most obvious advantage: wages were in pounds which, until recently had been worth up to €1.50.

So the French learned to love the British capital despite its weather. I won’t say that they became fond of fish and chips but they certainly adapted themselves well to the English way of life, even making a home away from home for themselves in South Kensington. In fact, more than 350 000 French individuals have settled in London; a sufficient number for the French Government to declare the Big Smoke France's fifth city.

But, alas, what goes up must came down and inevitably, the crisis has come. The times are certainly changing: expatriates are losing their jobs, the government is talking of a 45% tax on high incomes...and the hardest blow: the pound has fallen to an unnimaginable low. More than £0.95 is now necessary to get one euro. It has been a bitter pill to swallow for all French Londoners returning home for a Christmas break.

Therefore, more than one has probably wondered if he should not perhaps go home. Moreover, the fall of the pound has made people become aware of London's disadvantages: exorbitant prices, a completely outdated underground, a not very reliable public health system… Before, such things were more easily forgiven.

However, does this really warrant a mass exodus home for French Londoners? Are things that much better on the continent? Apparently not. France, unfortunately, has not escaped the crisis, and the ex-Londoners will probably have as many issues to find a job in Paris as in the British capital. And one should not forget that French expatriates are not here only for the money. London has a lot to offer besides a comfortable financial situation: an amazing artistic life, wonderful parks, multiculturalism… And above all, all these expatriates built their life here. They have friends,  families have been raised here, their children have been educated in the UK. So, if France is their country, London is definitely their home. Would you be ready to leave your home simply to improve your purchasing power?


15/01/2012 - fineart said :

Hahahaha. I'm not too bright today. Great post!

21/01/2011 - alounas said :

Hi There,

I am French and my wife is Algerian. For the sake of our kids education and well being we have opted to stay here. London is a very open society and kids of mixed background won't find it as difficult an in France.A lot needs to change in France before we even contemplate going back.More equal opportunities and less racisme .


16/01/2011 - yoganini said :

I love London! I now live in Hertfordshire but each time I go back to London for the day it's like seeing an old lover! Although I sometimes miss the "better" French weather, Paris in the spring and the better healthcare system; the UK has been very good to me. People are so much more open-minded and society is less hierarchical. I have friends, a career and children educated here and as I get older the question to go home is getting more pressing but home is actually here. I have spend 30 years of my 50 years in London and it's region. Oui, j'aime la France, mais je ne veux pas y vivre.

01/10/2009 - lfluhr said :

Hi Everyone, I am working in Switzerland over a decade now, as Senior Planner and plan to move within the next three months to London, following my partner. The more I read about the crisis, French coming back hope due to the pound's weakness, ecc... the more I get concerned about finding a similar position over there (Procurement, Export). I will definitely move, that's for sure, however just wondering: does it really look that bad? Your feeling about that? And... any tip to find a job quickly will be appreciated ;)

25/09/2009 - fresh_ny said :

I built a life in london, i met my wife, bought a house and beside that, i left for Canada and regrets it until now. as a matter of fact i come back next year. London is a special place allying culture, tolerance and manners. I just can go anywhere else. after all Paris is 45 mns flight away.

23/01/2009 - magnificent_moosettina said :

A real "Tale of Two Cities"! To quote the advert "Daddy or chips?", a difficult choice! I greatly miss Paris especially in Spring and Autumn (" I love Paris in the Springtime" and "les feullies mortes" ),but Paris is colder in winter and hotter in summer, so London has the edge then. Try to enjoy both to the maximum and get a job that allows the contrast to continue, is my advice.Hopefully the weakening pound will encourage the return of exports to France!

11/01/2009 - s_saubrement said :

This is not a pure economical choice. Many of us have actually built a life here, and personally, it would take more than an economical crisis to make me want to go back to France. I have my house, my job, my friends here, and I know that whenever I need to be around my family, I can either jump on a plane, or they can do the same and come to me !

08/01/2009 - maudfierobe said :

That's a big question for us!!! ....We feel like going back I have to say when we are in london but when we are in France we feel like missing something...that we called home! I think there is no good or bad choice we just belong to both now! Maybe being closer to family might help to decide....Our parents are so sad do not see the kids often.. is it also fair for our children to be separated from their grandparents?



07/01/2009 - jadorvivre said :

I'm not going, I'm too happy here!! Sophie, 11.5 years in London.

07/01/2009 - eduardoalfonso said :

Go to South America, is the newest trend.


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