How to Start a New Life in Paris

A slightly different post this week, as I know a lot of people are starting their year abroad in the next few weeks and considering I started mine over two months ago now (how?!) I thought I'd share my words of wisdom.

A photo taken from when I once flew over Paris 

Bank Accounts
First things first, this is France. Therefore this will never be easy. Be prepared to bring proof of absolutely everything. Before leaving for France I really would recommend photocopying your passport and driving licence about 100 times and bring bank statements, old P45s, anything from the HMRC... Basically, if it looks official and has your name and address on it, bring it.

I chose to bank with HSBC as I was already with them in the UK, and I haven't had any problems so far. I would recommend going into a larger branch and make an appointment to speak with their English-speaking assistant (if they have one), and don't feel disheartened if the whole process is done in English, as when it comes to banking, it's better to make sure that everything is done correctly as opposed to agreeing to something you really didn't want just because you didn't know the word for "overdraft" in French, for example (its découvert).

In terms of my student loan, whilst I haven't yet received it despite it being due nearly a week ago (this is Student Finance we're talking about), I've chosen to keep my UK bank account open and transfer larger sums of money over when I need it. This costs me about £4 a time if I do it through HSBC, but I've also discovered this amazing website called TransferWise, which is completely legit, is a lot quicker than a bank transfer and costs a whole lot less.

Living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world comes at a cost. I live in a lovely area, still in zone 1, but nearing the suburbs of Paris and for a 23m2 flat I pay €650 a month with all bills included. Unfortunately, landlords often ask for not only a deposit, but sometimes up to 2 months rent in advance, which can be pretty costly. Common sites used to find accommodation are and also has a good guide to finding an apartment. I found mine through a private company and I have a feeling they may be booked up for the year, but drop me an email if you'd like to know more.

Phone Contracts
Before coming out to France I was on Orange, however I temporarily suspended my contract and whilst I could only do it for 6 months it's still 6 months less that has to be paid for when I'm not actually using it.

I spent hours and hours researching phone contracts, as they're not as cheap over here. I eventually found a company that I have practically fallen in love with, as they're a little start up but use the same signal as SFR, so I've had no problems on that front. Contracts with Joe start from as little as €5 a month, they can be "switched off" at the click of your mouse so you don't have to worry about 12/24 month contracts.

You can even set up your first payment from your UK debit card (not many phone companies will do this) and change it as soon as you've got your French card. If you follow my link here you'll get a fiver put into your cagnotte that you can use to take off your bill or buy international minutes and get a free SIM. You can always log on to see what you've got remaining in your minutes/internet/international calls (if you've bought them) on your phone or on your computer.

Finding things to do
Whether you're in Paris or anywhere else in France, make sure you research where you want to spend your free time. Starting my year abroad whilst there were still people here from 2012/13 was great as I was able to get loads of ideas from them, but I'd recommend checking out the new Time Out Paris site. Asking your colleagues is a great way to bond over discovering new places and things to do. I'd also recommend just jumping on a metro, heading to a station like Place Monge or Parmentier, walking towards République, and just wander the streets, it literally feels like you've walked straight onto a film set!

Staying in touch
As scary as it is moving to a new place, keeping in contact with friends and family can be so easy. I've always been a big fan of Whatsapp, so that's been pretty good whilst I've been here. I've also purchased a subscription with Skype, I get 400 minutes of landline calls over WiFi for under €4 a month, which is fab for staying in touch avec les grand-parents!

Making friends
New country, new start, right? Make sure you talk to anyone and everyone (okay, maybe not everyone, particularly not the creepy creepers you find on the Metro), don't worry if you find yourself clinging onto every fellow English person you meet, it took me about 3 weeks or so before I felt comfortable in approaching Frenchies. Personally, I think it's essential that you profiter bien de the crazily low wine prices, grab yourself a glass before you head out of an evening and chat away to anyone who will listen. 

If there's one thing we do well in the UK, it's the high street, and whilst Europe doesn't seem to have the best range of shops there are some hidden gems. I am a huge fan of the Galleries Lafayette (especially the one on Boulevard Haussmann) and despite missing Boots and Superdrug like crazy I could spend hours in French pharmacies looking at all the skincare. If you are staying in Paris, it's worth your time checking out City Pharma (Metro station Mabillon) for really good deals on the big brands. I've managed to use Ebay, Amazon and ASOS with no problems over here, too.

I've talked about Parisian transport quite a bit on my blog already, so it might be worth looking under "transport" under Categories on my navigation bar if you'd like to know more. On the whole, French transport is pretty reliable and similar to back home. You can even buy a Young Persons Railcard if you're going to make the most of living in France to get reductions on train travel.

Sharing your year abroad
As you've probably noticed, I love to document my travels, hence the whole blog thing. I will take photos of absolutely anything and everything, and you should too! Along with the rest of the world, I am a huge fan of Twitter and Instagram and pretty much every photo on my blog I have taken with my iPhone. I use the app Camera + to make my pictures slightly more professional looking (however there is only so much you can do!) If you do decide to write a blog, let me know, I love reading them!

I think that's pretty much it for the time being, but if you do have any questions I'm always on my email or Twitter so just let me know!

A la prochain!



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