Moving to France For Members

Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier

The Local France
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Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier
What should you add to your smartphone to make life in France easier? Photo: AFP

Moving to a new country is always challenging and France - with its love of bureaucracy and slight tendency to expect you to already know everything - is no different. So here are some apps that might make life just a bit easier.


Hopefully our readers also have helpful and supportive friends, relatives, neighbours and colleagues who will help smooth them into life in France. But sometimes one can also benefit from a little technical help.

1. CityMapper

Yes, you can use any mapping app - or even a paper map, heaven forfend - but in the big cities the mapping app will also work out a public transport route for you if it's too far to walk and tell you about any delays or disruption on the line. A couple of helpful little snippets in Paris include telling you which Metro station exit to use (in the bigger stations coming out at the wrong exit can add 0.5km to your journey) and which end of the train to get on to ensure you do less walking.

As the name suggests, however, it only works in cities.

2. ViaNavigo

Speaking of public transport, if you're in Paris and don't want to spend time faffing about with cardboard tickets, the city transport authorities recently launched this app which allows you to load up your smartphone with Metro, bus or tram tickets and swipe it at the barrier. Bad news for iPhone users though, Apple refused to take part in the project so it only works with Androids. 

3. BlaBlaCar

If you're travelling further afield and want to save some cash, check out ride sharing app BlaBlaCar. Drivers advertise a trip they are taking and invite passengers along in exchange for a small charge to help out with petrol costs.

It's basically a high tech version of hitchiking, but for foreigners it has the added benefit that being stuck in a car with someone for several hours will give you lots of practice at speaking French. (The BlaBla in the name refers to the fact you can specify how chatty you want to be during the trip).

4. Doctolib

Having conversations with a doctor's receptionist is generally excruciating in any language, so this handy app allows you to book your appointment without speaking to anyone. You can search doctors (and dentists) by area or by speciality before picking an appointment.

Among the helpful information the app offers you about the doctor you selected is what languages they speak, so if you're not sure your French is up to the job you can find a English-speaking medic.

5. C'est la grève

A particularly French one this, the app lists all the strikes in France that are either ongoing or planned. A word of caution though, not all strikes in France cause widespread disruption. If a strike involves only one union that doesn't have many members, it is unlikely to cause real problems.

It's when the unions work together that they can really have an impact, as we saw during the mass transportation strikes in December and early January. Also, some things are listed as strikes when they are really more like a protest or a work-to-rule, for example among firefighters or emergency workers who are forbidden by law to walk off the job. Basically, don't freak out when you see how many strikes are listed.

6. La Fourchette

La Fourchette (the fork) is a restaurant booking app that lists thousands of nice places to eat, allowing you to search by either location or restaurant type. If you're not confident of your French it can save you a phone call and ensure that you get exactly the right time and number of people in your booking.

7. TUP

Trouver un Préservatif is one for the lovers. If you're in an urgent romantic situation the app scans your location and tells you the nearest place you can buy condoms. Pharmacies, supermarkets and vending machines are all indicated on the map, and it also tells you how long it will take you to walk there. So there's no excuse for not having safe sex.

READ ALSO From ONS to JTM: Our guide to French online dating

Most people also have a language app to help out with translation if your French comes a bit unstuck, there are loads and we've dedicated an entire article to the subject here.

8. And don't forget The Local! We don't like to brag but we also have an app. It's free on both iPhone (iOS) and Android and you can download it HERE.




Comments (7)

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Anonymous 2020/05/25 15:48
Hello<br />Would you please tell me how to get “Doctolib”<br />In English. Thanks
Anonymous 2020/04/26 20:37
Try KelDoc - very easy to use, find a doctor or specialist in your area, and make an appointment.
Anonymous 2020/02/13 08:55
Go to<br />Full marks to ViaNavigo for NOT supporting Apple IOS, the bane of society!<br />Where gullible lemmings keep advertising "Sent from my POS phone". :)<br />
Anonymous 2020/02/11 23:48
I live in the USA. How can I get The Doctolib app on my android phone? I could not find it in the google play store.
Anonymous 2019/11/16 15:21
You probably are not in the French iTunes store...
Anonymous 2019/11/09 21:56
I can’t find Doctolib or CityMapper. Can you advise please<br />
Anonymous 2019/11/08 17:45
doctolib <br />I did not find this app on my apple apps!<br />please let me know a website perhaps

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