The first step is invariably the most difficult, and the most common question is simply “where do I begin?” There are plenty of resources in Paris, but many can be somewhat daunting, especially if you are not entirely comfortable speaking French. Alliance Française on Boulevard Raspail in the 6th is an excellent starting point. They have many flexible classes to help improve your French, so you can quickly get to a level that you can be more comfortable, even if its just to get a bare minimum of daily tasks accomplished.

Renting through an Agency

After getting to town the first step is often finding a place to live. While renting through an agency may not be the cheapest way to go, it will certainly save you lots of time and worry. Most agencies will charge at least the equivalent of a months rent for their services (15%) and then often there are multiple ‘hidden’ agency fees included in your rent! Fortunately only charges a flat fee of 10% with NO additional costs. However, no matter who you decide to rent through always make sure that you understand everything before signing, even if it means asking a friend to help you out. Visit our ‘How To’ Section for more detailed information on renting via How to for Renters

Getting a Mobile Phone

This will be important from the moment you arrive. Without a phone it will be difficult to make appointments and get anything done. Getting a mobile phone contract is not all that straightforward without a French bank account and a good measure of patience. Furthermore, closing the contract when it comes time to leave will be even more difficult. This is why it is usually a good option to consider a ‘pay as you go’ plan where you just top up credit as needed. We suggest as their credit is valid 12 months and they have the cheapest calling costs. Once you buy the phone you can recharge it over the phone with a foreign bank card- They run on the SFR network but at ½ the cost of SFR!

French bank account

As a general rule, you cannot fully open a French bank account until you are physically present (in France) to confirm your identity & signature. You may be able to initiate the setup for the new account from the USA if your bank or broker has links & access to a French branch, but you still won’t be able to make transactions until first presenting yourself.

Documents you will need: Valid Passport, Your signed rental contract, A letter from your landlord confirming your residency (une Attestation d’Hébergement ), A recent gas or electric bill from your landlord containing the address of your residency issued within the last 3 months. Checking accounts in France are not free, nor are the banking staff helpful. Consider if you really need to open a French bank account. For short periods it may be easier to just keep paying the exchange fees each time you withdraw cash at the ATM with your foreign bank card. Be aware, there is also a fee for closing a French account.


Most apartment rentals are now equipped with Internet/Wifi. With an apartment Internet contract, some providers offer complimentary Wifi access anywhere in the city. You’ll need the login code from your landlord or directly from the provider. Free Wifi Hotspots: In the 6th Arrondissement: Le Malongo Café- Italian coffee chain, rue St. André des Arts; Le Buci- a French brasserie, rue Dauphine at Odéon – or look here for a whole list:

Kids and schools

You have a choice of sending your child to a private or public school. A comprehensive list of private, bilingual schools in France:

For public schools, contact the local service des ecoles at the mairie of your arrondissement. If your child is arriving from outside France and is entering collège or lycée, you will need to contact the educational administrative head, the rectorat.

To send your child to a French school, you will need a birth certificate (extrait de l’acte de naissance), proof of parental identity: passport or cartes de séjour or cartes d’identité, immunisation records (carnet de santé -booklet of records in France), proof of residence, proof of additional school insurance (assurance scolaire). Note, that you will need official French translations by a traducteur assermenté for your documents

Moms & Families: A non profit website setup especially to support Anglophones moving to France.

Students: CROUS

This is a fantastic place for students to eat lunch or dinner for €3! Go to the website to see which is the nearest student restaurant near you. They also do a fantastic Sunday brunch at the Centre Bullier which is just near the Jardin de Luxembourg…. Why not have breakfast for €3 then read the newspaper in the park on Sunday. ***Note you can pay cash and student identification is seldom requested.

Some of Our favorite things to do in Paris (aside from the obvious):

  • Go to an Open Air Market (Marché en plein air) – food, clothes, antiques, collectibles, books, artisan buys, junk… They’re all over the city on different days.
  • Buy a bottle of wine and picnic on the Seine or Canal St. Martin.
  • Stroll the Îsle St. Louis and stop for an exquisite, home-made hot chocolate at Charlotte de l’isle
  • Peruse perfect produce and delicatessen delights at Bon Marché
  • Visit the top of Montparnasse Tower Tour Montparnasse- a great view of Paris and is seldom busy.
  • Go on early morning walk on the weekends-Paris from a different point of view!


Information published by does not constitute legal or other professional advice. findaplaceinparis provides general information concerning all things relative to temporary & permanent relocation to France. Under no circumstances should it be regarded as professional advice, which can only be obtained from your own advisers. While we may regularly update information as necessary, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided and are not liable for any loss that may arise from reliance on any information contained herein or from information found on web sites linked from Use us, but always verify your own info.