Moving to Paris with Your Family

Information on the areas, schools, accommodation and other matters to do with settling your family in...

Several criteria can affect where in Paris to settle a family: proximity to work or schools and access to sport, leisure or cultural facilities. Other factors include the varying cost of accommodation per square meter across the region and easy access to one of the airports or other means of public transport.

Where to Live in Paris

Essentially, the twenty arrondissements of Paris are 20 villages that joined to form the city of Paris as the power and influence of the capital became more important. Each of the arrondissement has a different character and each have features which set them apart from the others.

Many expatriate families choose to live in suburbs instead of staying within the city centre of Paris in order to be able to rent or buy a house as opposed to an apartment.

In this respect there are several areas which attract expatriate families:

The western suburbs

The suburbs to the west of Paris are where most of the bilingual/international schools are to be found; central Paris is also very easy to reach by public transport and by car from the western suburbs of Paris.

Fontainebleau

The presence of INSEAD a major international business school, an International School, several international businesses as well as good public transport into Paris make the Fontainebleau area popular with expatriate families.

Marne La Vallée

The construction of Disneyland Paris and several new housing estates to the West of Paris has served to attract some expatriate families to the area.

Chantilly/Senlis

Easy access to Charles de Gaulle airport as well as to Paris centre makes this an attractive area for some expatriate families. Bilingual nursery, primary and secondary schools are available in the area too.

The International/Bilingual Schools

There are several options regarding schooling in Paris and within the Ile de France. The choice exists between Unilingual National Schools, Bilingual and International Schools as well as French schools with high level programmes in English.

There are several associations and organisations that can help newcomers to understand the French schooling system and offer guidelines as to which school may be best for a particular child.

  • AAWE: publishes a definitive guide to education in France
  • ELSA: informative web site which lists all the different educational options available to you and your family in Paris and the Ile de France
  • MESSAGE: a parent support group
  • SPRINT: a referral service for families with children who have special educational needs

Housing Options

Many people opt to rent accommodation initially, allowing a longer window within which to find a more permanent home. There is a large variety of options available in Paris and the Ile de France, these extend from hotels to apartment hotels, furnished accommodation and long-term furnished and unfurnished rentals.

Demand is high for good rental properties in Paris and the suburbs around the International Schools. The search for appropriate housing needs to be dealt with early on in the moving process.

Another option is to buy a property in Paris or the Ile de France. Use the help of house hunters who specialise in finding a property to suit a particular set of circumstances.

Relocation agencies provide programmes and assistance that can greatly facilitate a transition into France. Most relocation agencies offer a range of services that include advice and assistance with all of the bureaucratic procedures involved in moving to France. They also help to find short-term accommodation, give advice on the schools and the educational system in France and most provide a house hunting service too.

Insurance, Assurance and Health Insurance

Obligatory state health cover forms part of the French social security (securité sociale). Many people elect to buy private "top-up" insurance (mutuelle) too, which affords a higher level of cover in case of orthodontic work, ophthalmologic needs and in the case of long-term hospitalisation or dread diseases.

France's health system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world.

Banks can provide all forms of insurance as do specialist insurance companies; there are several options available in Paris and the Ile-de-France.

Settling In

Speaking French is a very valuable key to the settling in process; consider taking French lessons to help in this respect.

There are several companies and individuals that offer cultural coaching courses which help with the integration process into the work or social environment.

Places of worship can be points of advice, support and friendship for religious expatriates. Several of the churches in and around Paris offer active programmes to help new arrivals settle in as quickly as possible. These include the American Church in Paris which organises "Bloom" workshops throughout the year.

There are several nationality-based and special interest support groups for those wishing to make contact and seek information regarding living in France.

Clubs and associations abound in Paris and the Ile de France catering to many fields of interest. Sports facilities and gyms can be found throughout the region too.

Paris is one of the world’s most important centres for cultural life and a large number of cultural activities take place each day. There are a number of English Language bookshops and libraries in Paris.

Further Information

  • Places to visit with children from the Paris Ile de France website: Click here