Americans in France For Members

Americans in France: Driving on a US licence, tap water and basketball

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
Americans in France: Driving on a US licence, tap water and basketball
Traffic at the Arc de Triomphe. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

From common American misconceptions about France to the rules on driving on a US licence via France's long history with basketball, here's our latest newsletter for Americans who either live in France, visit frequently or plan to move here some day.


Welcome to The Local's "Americans in France" monthly newsletter for members, featuring all the news and practical information you need as an American resident, visitor or second-home owner in France. You can sign up to receive it directly to your inbox before we publish it online via the link below.

Hello Americans in France,

Recently, an American influencer went viral for packing a suitcase filled with Diet Coke in preparation for her two-week trip to Europe. Why? No Diet Coke in Europe, she alleged. We fact-checked this claim, and it is false - although you may notice a difference in the taste of Coke products in Europe. 

I then felt inspired to investigate other questionable claims fellow Americans have made about France, from 'avoid drinking tap water' to 'French McDonald's is healthier'.  

One assertion I have heard from my compatriots is that it is possible to live in France without ever exchanging your American driver's licence. Evidently, this is not geared toward car-owners and people who drive on a daily basis, but many are convinced that if you only rent a car a few times a year you can use the handy trick of simply showing your American licence and feigning ignorance.


Several readers mentioned in our ongoing survey for Americans in France that they were seeking more information about driving and the rules around exchanging licences. There are in fact some steep penalties for those who drive on a foreign licence after they should have swapped it for a French one.

Speaking of our ongoing survey, you can still fill it out if you are interested in asking questions relating to Americans in France. You can also offer tips for your fellow countrymen. 

One reader, Jeffrey Weihl in the Gard département advised: "Research expat groups for the area you’re moving to.

"Make contact with them early (even before you arrive) and ask lots of questions. They will be the best source of all recommendations for local doctors, banks, real estate, accountants, notaires, etc".

And finally, if you live in France and you have noticed more people playing basketball at your gym or on the streets near your home, then you would not be alone. Basketball may be an American sport originally, but it is becoming more and more popular in France. In fact, the country has a very long history with shooting hoops, going back to 1893 when the first basketball game ever played on European soil took place in Paris, France.


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