For members


From Provence to Paris: Where do all the Americans live in France?

Americans have been leaving the US for a fresh start in France for a long time now, so if you're thinking of doing the same, here is where your compatriots live.

From Provence to Paris: Where do all the Americans live in France?
Photo: AFP

How many Americans are actually living in France?

It's a good question. According to the most recent data given to the The Local from France's national statistics agency INSEE, the number of Americans in France is around the 31, 000 mark.

Although the real number is likely to be much higher, with the US embassy even talking of around 100,000 “yankees” in France.

Judging by comments from our readers and on social media platforms there are a few hundred thousand more Americans who dream of moving to France.

So you're thinking of moving to France you'll want to know where to find (or where to avoid) your fellow countrymen, right?

You can probably guess where most American expats choose to settle in France.

That’s right: the City of Light.

Île de France, the region around Paris, is officially home to about 15,500 Americans (so around exactly half of all Americans in France), making it the clear top choice.

Out of those 15, 500 in the whole of the Île-de-France region some 9,500 Americans are in Paris itself. That's almost a third of France's American population living in the capital city.

Paris has always been popular with Americans even just those who to come visit. Indeed last year more Americans visited Paris than any other nationality. And if you want to know why then just click on the link below.)

READ ALSO: Why are Americans still so infatuated with Paris?

Why are Americans still so infatuated with Paris?

Plus the key attraction of Paris to Americans is not the terrace cafes where you don't have to tip but if an American wants to work in France then the capital gives them by the far the best chance of finding a job.

American firms with headquarters in the Paris region are a good source of employment. 

Then there's the American University, the American Library, the American Church and even the restaurant the American Kitchen, so despite being far from home there's a tight knit American community in the French capital.

Jeff Steiner, writer and webmaster of the Americans in France site says “yankees” want to live near other Americans, or at least other English speakers. 

Paris has a concentration of English-speaking clubs and groups, he points out. It’s also a major travel hub, whereas it can be difficult to travel if you live a in rural French village.

One American reader of The Local, named Joey Beaudreau, pointed out that the visa and immigration issues Americans face in France, which the Brits don't, make it hard for them to live away from big cities like Paris.

“Most of us have to be near big cities with jobs that will sponsor us,” he said. “The French government makes it quite difficult and it's not something Brits have to worry about.

“While I love Paris, I'd happily consider somewhere else if I didn't have to worry about labour/immigration problems.”

Americans don't tend to go for the suburbs around the capital. Of the seven other departments that make up Île-de-France only Yvelines and Hauts-de-Seine have an American population that numbers more than 1,000.

Lyon, Rhone, Photo: Flickr/Martin Pilat

The numbers show that Americans seem to be drawn to regions with large metropolitan areas. The next favourite region for Americans is the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes in central France, with 3,580 calling it home. 

Almost 1,000 of the region's Americans live in the department of Rhône which is home to France's second city Lyon. Lyon is known as the gastronomic capital of the country, which is perhaps a pull for Americans tired of nachos, hot dogs and pizzas.

Almost 500 are in Haute-Savoie which borders Switzerland and is close to Geneva.

Coming in third place for Americans is Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. With its irresistible combination of sun, sea, mountains and rosé wine, it’s not hard to see why at least 2,529 Americans have chosen to live in the sunny south.

Just over 1,000 of them are in the department of Alpes-Maritimes which includes the famous coastal resorts of the French Riviera.

Harriet Welty-Rochefort, an American writer and former journalism professor at Sciences Po, and longtime resident of Paris, says that it’s mainly word of mouth that has brought so many Americans to places like the south of France. 

“The French Riviera was frequented by American writers and artists in the 1920s,” she said. “And then they went back to the States and talked about the Riviera and then of course everyone wanted to go there. So of course Americans love it now. Provence is beautiful, what can you say?”

Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, Photo: Flickr/Dennis Jarvis

The next most-often picked regions are also home to some of France’s major cities.

The huge region of Nouvelle Acquitaine which stretches down the west coast and deep into central France (see map above) is home to 1, 766 Americans. Around a third of those are in Gironde which is home to the city of Bordeaux, where most will reside.

There are also 200 Americans in the Dordogne alongside over 7,000 Brits.

There are also 2,404 Americans in the neighbouring region of Occitanie and like many Anglophones are drawn to the two départments of Herault on the south coast, where there are just under 600, and Haute-Garonne, which is home to the city of Toulouse and over 800 Americans.

But there are a few regions of France that Americans are apparently not too crazy about. 

Corsica gets the least amount of love, with only about 61 Americans calling it home. The Mediterranean island is nicknamed the “Island of beauty” but there are no big urban centres for jobs and transport links to the mainland make it a more expensive choice. 

That's why Corsica is only home to just under 300 people from English-speaking countries in total.

Americans – like other Anglophones – are not too keen on central and eastern France either.

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is home to just over 500 Americans as is Centre-Val de Loire. 

Both are mainly rural regions with no major cities.

The Grand Est region has just over 1,200 Americans.

Brittany and Normandy number 700 and 600 Americans respectively and they are spread fairly evenly across most départments in both regions.

Basically Americans don't seem too fond of La France Profonde unlike their British cousins, who can't get enough of it.

Limousin, Photo: Flickr/Tourisme Haute-Vienne

Jeff Steiner from the Americans in France site says Americans avoid such areas, even if they're beautiful, because of the isolation.

“If you live in a small village in the Cantal, there's just not much there,” he said. “It’s a culture shock, it’s a language shock, it’s a big shock.”

The northern French region of Hauts-de-France is home to just under 800 Americans and Pays-de-la-Loire in the west has just under 700 Americans.

Cantal, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, Photo: Flickr/Balisolo

Welty-Rochefort says that Americans often overlook certain parts of the country, such as the centre, simply because they don’t know about them, and people choose what they know. 

“It’s amazing how conformist people are,” she said. “There are places that are beautiful but Americans wouldn’t venture to go there because they don’t know about it.”

She also suggests that tourism departments in certain regions don’t try as hard to attract Americans.

Welty-Rochefort thinks that more Americans should try to step out of their comfort zones and settle in lesser-known parts of the country because “they’ll find joie de vivre anywhere in France”.

For members


Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

If you're researching the French property market, you might have come across mentions of 'courtiers' - here's what they do and whether they are necessary.

Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

The French ‘courtier‘ is usually translated as a broker, and the Notaires Association describes their role like this: “the broker is a true intermediary in banking operations. His/her role is to negotiate the best rates for you, but not only that: they will also find the most advantageous financing conditions for the realisation of your project.”

Essentially they act as an intermediary between you and the banks, so they’re only required if you need a mortgage or a loan in order to buy your French property. 

Their job is to research the best deals for you and then to help you put together your application and ensure that all your paperwork is correct – unlike the notaire, instructing a courtier is not a required part of the process, so the decision on whether to instruct one is up to you. 

So is it worth it?

Among French buyers, around 30 percent of mortgages are obtained using the services of a courtier, and this rises to 60 percent among young, first-time buyers, who generally find it harder to access credit.

Some of things to consider are your level of French and confidence in negotiating French bureaucracy, your financial situation (since French mortgage lenders tend to be stricter than those in the UK or US) and whether you currently live in France or not (since there are extra hoops to jump through for overseas buyers).

READ ALSO Is now a good time to buy a home in France?

“Things have changed,” Trevor Leggett, group president of Leggett International estate agents, told The Local. “It’s now more important than ever to work closely with a reputable broker.

“In France it is all paper-based, very old-school and extremely bureaucratic, a different world entirely to the UK. Preparing the client “dossier” so that it will be accepted is an art form.”

READ ALSO MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

He advised non-resident international clients, particularly, who may not be au fait with the French system to seek the help of a broker who knows the ropes.

“The question is no longer really about savings,” he said. “It is about finding a bank that can actually lend to the client profile, interests rate are secondary. 

“It occasionally happens that one bank can be played off against another, or to shop around, but it’s a rare event nowadays.”

READ ALSO Revealed: The ‘hidden’ extra costs when buying property in France

And he had no hesitation in recommending that prospective buyers find a broker to sort out the financing.

“The lending market has tightened for international buyers and a good one is worth their weight in gold,” he said.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Time-frame for buying and selling property in France

In France, you make an offer on a property and then you begin the mortgage process (while in the UK it’s the other way round) so problems in getting your mortgage approved could lead to you losing your dream property.

“[Using a courtier] can be the difference between buying and not,” added Trevor.

“It’s not just any possible language barrier – but understanding the process and the different players in the market.”

How much?

The cost of hiring a courtier is borne by the buyer – but how much do they charge?

The courtier usually charges a percentage of the total mortgage amount – fees must be fixed in advance and are only payable once your mortgage application has been approved. 

Fees vary between different areas and different businesses, but the average fee is €2,000, which amounts to around one percent of the purchase price.

Many brokers set a minimum amount – around €1,500 – for smaller loans, and take a percentage of larger loans, so how much you pay depends on your property budget.