Helpful French Phrases for Travelers

What many mistake for snootiness in Paris actually an ingrained social formality that, from an outsider’s perspective, can feel very old-fashioned. People still greet their neighbors cordially and hold doors for each other regardless of gender. If you want to make a good first impression and feel like a local tout de suite (immediately), commit these phrases to memory and employ them liberally.

An American plug is held up against a European wall socket.

How to Use North American Electronics in France

If you choose to bring your electronics with you when you make the move, you’ll need a series of transformers, adapters, and regional setting work-arounds to make them work in France. Expert author Aurelia d’Andrea explains everything you need to know, and advice on making the switch to PAL electronics.

People filling bottles and drinking at a public water fountain in Paris, France.

Life in Paris: Air and Water Quality

Parisians deal daily with high levels of air pollution thanks to a number of factors, a population favoring diesel cars included. In the spring of 2015, Paris briefly topped the world charts for air pollution, putting it above regular offenders such as Delhi and Peking. On the ground, a national pastime of cigarette smoking and lime buildup in water are two issues newcomers face.

Shops at Alésia in the 14th arrondissement - Paris.

A Paris Expat Experience: Living in the 14th

If you’ve got questions about what life is like in a Paris neighborhood for an expat, the best source to go to are fellow expats with a few years of experience in their new country under their belt. Expert author Aurelia d’Andrea sat down for a chat with Dan Smith, age 62, about his life in the 14th arrondissement.

View of the Seine river through Paris from the Eiffel Tower.

Navigating Paris: Départements, Arrondissements, and More

Metropolitan France, or what the locals refer to as La Métropole, is carved into 22 culturally distinct regions, which are further divided into départements. In the manner of Russian dolls, each department contains arrondissements, cantons, and communes. For the day-to-day practical purposes of the expat, knowing your regions and departments is what matters most.

CCTV cameras adorn an iron stand in France.

Staying Safe in France

It isn’t very likely you’ll become a crime statistic if you live in France, but if you do run into trouble, the police can help with matters as varied as finding a lost animal to giving you directions to helping you when your pocket is picked on the Paris Métro. Here’s who to contact and what you need to know.

Savory baked goods on display at a French boulangerie.

Planning Your Fact-Finding Trip to Paris

It’s easy to fall in love with the surface image of France, but there’s only one way to find out whether the Parisian personality meshes with yours and whether there’s hope for a long-term relationship, and that’s to come visit and stay awhile. Find out what you need to know to prepare for your trip.

The Eiffel Tower and the streets of Paris lit up at dusk.

Paris’s Rive Gauche Neighborhoods

Paris’s Left Bank, known as Rive Gauche, staked its claim in the hearts and minds of expats more than a century ago. If you’re thinking of moving to Paris and care less about cachet and hipster cred than you do about safety and ease of transport, the Left Bank offers the chance to discover the hidden attractions of Paris’s calm and cool south side and decide for yourself if this is a place to call home.

Apartment blueprints in French.

Tips on Renting in Paris

Renting has its advantages over buying, the most obvious being a much lighter initial investment. Paris rental laws are particularly strict, and French bureaucracy doesn’t end at the front door of your new house or apartment, which can make finding a place to live a challenge, particularly if you are short on time or funds. Use these tips to ease the way.

People queued at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

Customs and Etiquette in Paris

One of the first things you’ll notice about living in Paris is the formal politesse that pervades daily interactions. More important than mimicking the French version of Emily Post is to simply treat everyone you encounter with respect. Do as the locals do and be liberal with your pleases and thank-yous.