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Are the French going to leave the Big Smoke?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Moreover, the fall of the pound has made people become aware of London's disadvantages: exorbitant prices, a completely outdated underground, a not very reliable public health system… Before, such things were more easily forgiven.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?
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