I can’t speak for the entirety of France but if you’re looking for expats in Provence here are a few suggestions.
When I first moved to France I had it in my head that I would only meet French people. I soon learned that in the countryside, meeting any people was a bit tricky. Throw into the equation a lack of funds and a lack of confidence in my French skills…
Let’s just say I didn’t make many friends during my first couple years here! I wanted to find somewhere to learn the language and wondered if there were courses, similar to this AJ Hoge learning course (which helps non-English speakers) that could help me to improve my French. Being an expat is always hard and I knew that going in. I had a friend who moved to Thailand with her family and her young kids were having an awful time trying to fit in until she found a Kindergarten in Bangkok for Internationals and that helped bring them out of their shell. Knowing this, I knew it would be hard at the start but it would get better as I got more confident.
People in Southern France are known to be more closed that people from the North. I’ve known of even French people who move here from other areas and have trouble. Small villages can be the trickiest. Where everyone has grown up together, they’re not jumping to make new friends unless they have a particular interest in speaking English.
After two years, I accepted the fact that I need to do some serious reaching out to other expats. People that have moved here from abroad will automatically have common ground with you. They will often lead to French friends and tips on where in your area to seek friends.
Expat communities are small in spirit. People tend to know each other so they can suggest people in your age range to meet. I didn’t even know that an English family was living on the next street! It’s surprising how many retirees you come across that have moved here for a better life, now that their working years are behind them. Some of them even credit this guide to retiring abroad with helping them to take the plunge and they seem glad to have done so.
Whether you’ve just moved to Provence (Bouches du Rhone region) or have been here for ages and not really managed to connect (I’ve met a few people), here are my suggestions for meeting expats in Provence.
Where to find Expats in Provence:
There are all kinds of groups such as French-English conversation, Dinner, and wine tasting propositions, hiking, get-togethers and even singing carols during the holidays. You’ll find people from all nationalities and walks of life. If there aren’t any activities that appeal to you, propose your own!
This is a group of women (sorry boys) who get together in various parts of Provence either to advertise their business or meet new friends. Each meeting has a little activity and it costs either 50 € per year to join or 10 € a meeting.
This is another closed Facebook group but you can easily be invited if you live in the area. It’s free to go to events and you’ll meet people from all walks of life.
I read about this app on the Guardian. I was convinced to join and I’m happy for it. This is an app for women seeking other female friends. You have a basic profile and connect with people close to you. In my case, there aren’t many people in the countryside but it’s catching on. Tons of people in cities such as Marseille, Aix en Provence and Montpellier. Also, the women on this app are much younger than other sites.
A new app for business networking. People also looking just to meet new people as well. You’re allowed to see 20 different local contacts every day.
Yup! Believe it or not, 2 of my friends found me on Instagram. They noticed I posted generally in a specific area, I spoke English and I had a blog. I’m always up for meeting new people et voila! Thanks to them being proactive I now know a couple people that are my age in the area.
This is a site where you can post classifieds to for work, buying and selling as well as friends!
Another website with groups you can join with various interests. About 5 € per month.
Book in Bar (Aix en Provence)
A lovely English bookshop in Aix en Provence. Once a month there’s an English book club with a great turnout.
AntiCafé (Aix en Provence)
This café is the first of it’s kind in Southern France. A trend that’s gaining popularity in Paris via Russia is where you pay for the time you spend in the café rather than the drinks. The tea and coffee are free and there are little nibbles as well. At least once a week there’s an international exchange for people wanting to meet up as well as practice their English. You’ll be popular if you’re an anglophone!
Camille Books and Tea (Avignon)
A second hand English bookshop. Each Wednesday and Friday, from 5pm-7pm there are conversation evenings where you can practice you French and locals can practice their English. A mix of ages.
I’ve had a few people reach out to me through this business network website.
A group of English-speaking people wanting to get together in the area around Nimes and Uzès. Bookclubs, restaurant outings, hikes and more.
Expats Around Manosque Facebook Group
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have found any other groups or resourceful ways to meet locals and expats in the area.
If you’re feeling a little lost and alone, here is some expat humour for you (more on Youtube)