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How many South Africans are in France and where are they all?

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How many South Africans are in France and where are they all?
The Eiffel Tower in Paris is floodlit in the colours of the South African flag on July 18, 2013 in honour of Mandela Day, the birthday of Nelson Mandela. Photo: AFP

There aren't many South Africans in France but here's where to find them. Or at east those we know about.


There are 1,367 South Africans in France.

While that might sound like a lot of people at a cursory glance, remember that there are around 67 million people in France, meaning the chances that the stranger next to you is from South Africa is just 0.002 percent. 

Now, there are 230,000 Anglophone expats in France, meaning South Africans make up a more respectable 0.6 percent of them all.

But they're still eighth out of the eight countries we studied, just a handful of expats behind New Zealand at 1,393, according to the 2014 figures from National Statistics Agency Insee. 

South Africa and France have historical connections (there's a South African war memorial in northern France) and both share a love of sport...

But where are all the South Africans located?

At a glance

Some 30 percent of France's South African community lives in the Greater Paris region of Ile-de-France (with 416 in total). 

The rest are spread quite evenly around the country, see map below, with a tendency to seek the warmer climes of the south of France.

All the regions

The most popular region

Yes, as is often the case, it's Ile-de-France that ranked as the most popular destination for South African expats. 

Of the 416 who live in the region, 118 can be found in the 20 arrondissements of Paris (or 28 percent). The next most popular department is Yvelines with 110. The other six departments have around 30 South Africans each, with Hauts-de-Seine as the only clear outlier with 60. 

The second most popular region

Stand aside everyone else - it's Occitanie that can boast the most South Africans (with the exception of Ile-de-France, of course). Yes, over 200 South Africans call Occitanie home, with Herault (56 South Africans) and Haute Garonne (40) the most popular. 

Perhaps it's the warm weather down in the southern region that acts as a drawcard for South Africans, many of whom no doubt miss the long sunny days under African skies. 

The least popular departments...

If you're a South African reading this and you want to feel a little exotic, then why not pack your bags and move to any of the following departments, each of which has zero South Africans. 

Ready? Here we go: Yonne, Ardennes, Aube, Vosges, Meuse, Lozere, Loire, Ardeche, Haute-Loire, and Hautes-Alpes. 

If you're more of a party animal, why not head to one of the 13 departments that are a little more populated by South Africans?

Here are the departments with one solitary South African: Eure-et-Loire, Indre, Cote-d'Or, Doubs, Territoire-de-Belfort, Eure, Orne, Aisne, Haute-Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Mayenne, Cotes-d'Armor, and Alpes-deHaute-Provence.

PS: We're not sure that the solitary South African below is from any of the departments above.

The north of France isn't so popular

The regions of Hauts-de-France and Normandy have just 46 South Africans between them, but it's a safe bet that there are more than just 46 South Africans there at any given point. 

One reason for that is that there is a South African war memorial in the Somme department, called Delville Wood. It was built in honour of the 10,000 South Africans who died in various battles during World War I, including the Somme Offensive.

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The national flag at Delville Wood. Photo: AFP

The south is a hotspot

Yes, if you're looking for a South African in France, you may as well head south to the Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur, Nouvelle Aquitaine, and Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, each of which have around 200 locals from South Africa. 

Popular departments in the south of France include Alpes-Maritimes with 70, Bouches-du-Rhones with 53, Gironde with 45, Isere with 42, Var with 40, and Pyrenees-Atlantiques and Rhone with 37 each, 

While we have no proof that the South Africans prefer south of France because of the warmer weather, the more laidback attitude to life, and the proximity to the coast - we think it's a safe bet that these are all major drawcards and a no-doubt welcome reminder of home for France's South African community. 

South Africans in France, please get in touch if you have any issues you want us to write about




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