Destinations Magazine

6 Ways to Make (American) Expat Friends in France

By Allisonlounes @parisunraveled
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If you’re staying in Paris for just a few months, you probably want to immerse yourself in French language and culture.

But if you’re staying for a whole year, and thinking about staying in France long-term, you may want to consider making friends with fellow expats. You know, the ones who know that you eat turkey for Thanksgiving, which falls at the end of November, and would never eat lobster for Christmas.

The good news is that Paris is a city of about 2 million people, and there are over 100,000 American expats in the Paris area alone. That’s not even counting the thousands of American expats who live elsewhere in France.

1) Join an English-language church.

You don’t have to be particularly religious to join an English-language church in Paris, like the American Church in Paris, an interdenominational Protestant church.

While the ACP and its sister Episcopalian church the American Cathedral are the main American churches in Paris, there are also several other religious communities that offer English-language services and community groups in English.

The ACP (which I joined, despite being a non-practicing Catholic) offers far more than just religious services and counciling. Its activities include everything from choirs (a youth choir and an adult choir) and handbell groups to a young professionals group that hangs out at bars and discusses being a young adult in France. They also have volunteer opportunities, like cooking and feeding the poor every week, Bible study groups, a writer’s group, and a language exchage group, and the church’s classrooms are often rented out to various activities like martial arts and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Some of the activities obviously have a religious slant (if you sing in the choir, for example, you’re expected to attend services and sing there), but as a whole, church members are open and welcoming, and it’s a true community.

2) Join Democrats (or Republicans) Abroad.

If you like politics at all, you may consider joining the France branch of Democrats Abroad or Republicans Abroad, both of which have active groups in France and organize discussions on various issues affecting Americans as a whole and Americans abroad in particular.

Traditionally, Democrats and Republicans Abroad co-organize a campaign to get out the vote before elections, provide information on how to vote from overseas, and plan joint all-nighter parties to watch the election results come in.

3) Search FUSAC for English-language activities.

While FUSAC isn’t great for finding an inexpensive long-term apartment, it IS good for learning about English language activities and groups in and around Paris.

One page of the FUSAC always advertises the various religious institutions in Paris with English-language services (see #1), and other Anglophone professionals offer everything from therapy sessions to dog walking in the FUSAC pages. A new one is issued every four weeks, so you can pick up a new issue and see if there are any new groups to join.

4) Take an English-language yoga or dance class.

Another good way to meet Americans in France is to take the occasional yoga, dance, or exercise class in English. Classes are offered at a bunch of different studios in Paris, as well as in the American Church, and studios with English-language classes will most likely have English-speaking students.

5) Attend alumni events for your university.

Most major universities have international branches of their alumni associations, and The American Clubs in France provides a handy list of all of the colleges and university groups that organize activities in France.

Aside from being apolitical and areligious groups that often organize celebrations of American holidays (the Columbia Club has Thanksgiving in a restaurant with the Harvard and Princeton clubs every year), the American Clubs are great for networking with successful expats and just hanging out with other alumni for your universit.

Plus, when your university organizes fancy alumni events in Paris, you may get a deep discount on event tickets if you’re a member of the local alumni association and graduated within the past few years.

6) Join expat groups on Facebook.

Social media has made it so easy to connect with people from around the world, and it’s easier than ever to find groups and activities to join in our own backyard.

Even if you’re not in Paris as a teaching assistant or a student, you can connect easily with other expats on Facebook by joining one of the many expat-oriented groups available.

How do you make expat friends in Paris? Do you think having American friends in France is important? Let us know in the comments!

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