One of the questions I get the most is about making friends, particularly in the context of moving to a new city or country. Making friends, especially as an adult, is not easy. My advice is to build up the courage and put yourself out there. Luckily we live in the age of the internet, we have countless resources available to us to meet new people.
Making friends in France
This topic can be divided into two main categories, making international friends, and making local friends. Finding international friends is much easier, as you are diving into a pool of people who are usually in a similar situation as yourself – new in town, trying to meet new people and open to new experiences. Meeting local people is a bit more difficult as they usually already have a group of friends and are less open to widening their circle, however they do exist!
Adapting to the culture
One of the things I found helpful is to learn more about French culture to better connect with French people. From basic things like understanding which football clubs are popular, to what cultural activities or restaurants are popular at any time, having this information can help. Have you read the recent bestselling book, have you been to the latest exhibition or new film in the cinema? People like to talk about new and popular things, it can help if you can participate in this conversation. Has there been a political or celebrity scandal, is there a recent development in the news that people are discussing, or are you also exhausted of something that gets on everyone’s nerves? These are all great starting points.
As aforementioned, there are countless resources, however some of my favourite and easiest ones are:
Reddit: there are groups for each city, for example r/Paris, r/SocialParis, r/Lyon, r/Toulouse, r/NiceFrance, r/AixMarseille and more. Very often people ask if others would like to meet up or join them for planned activities, and the posts I’ve seen always have replies!
MeetUp: probably the most popular app to meet new people, with an endless offer of groups available, you can find like minded people to play board games, discuss books, go hiking, play football or do other sports, language exchanges, or just party!
InterNations: Not free, but I’ve had decent feedback. Internations specialise in the expat communities around the world and host frequent events everywhere. Once you sign up you can participate at events, usually for a small fee, and then meet many other people trying to connect with other people.
Facebook: Among the groups on facebook there usually are “Germans in Lyon”, “Spanish in Toulouse”, “British in Nice”, you get the idea. There will be social groups, local groups, find the one you feel most attuned to, join, and ask others if they want to do something – the posts I’ve seen usually gather up to 30 likeminded people which starts the conversation.
When I lived in Toulouse I joined Toulangues, a language exchange program that pairs you up with French people who want to learn your language. It was an easy way to meet locals and I learned some French along the way. MyLanguageExchange offers a similar project in Marseille and Lyon, people write ads who they wish to connect with. Tandem is also a language exchange, however this also works online and you don’t need to meet the people in person.
Several of my international friends have met their tribe by joining local sports clubs, tennis, football, hiking groups or even playing chess in the park – have a look in your city if you can find activities you like, and give it a go!