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frequenttraveler2000 Jan 22nd, 2008 10:55 AM

Americans Living in Europe?
My family and I are considering a move to France related to my work. Of course we'll have relocation experts, country guides, etc., and we've spent a great deal of time in France on vacations, BUT. . .

I'm wondering if there are any on-line resources for Americans living in France? I've done some Google searches, but seem to only come up with advertisements.

Would appreciate any advice/direction. Would also like to hear from any Americans living in France. The job is near Lyon.


hetismij Jan 22nd, 2008 11:04 AM

Have a look at

Sallygirl42 Jan 22nd, 2008 12:58 PM

If you are looking for more like day-to-day hints and "where to find", a good source of reference is expatriate blogs. Expatica will have some listings and tailored google searches will bring some up too. I am an expat in Brussels and when I moved it was so helpful to read about other people going through cultural adjustments too.

Brussels has which is great but I am not sure what the French equivalent is - there must be an expatriate magazine too.

StCirq Jan 22nd, 2008 01:38 PM


BTilke Jan 22nd, 2008 01:43 PM

They are affiliated with FAWCO (a women's club organization) so look at for their other clubs in France.

If you are politically minded, don't forget to check out the local Democrats Abroad or Republicans Abroad chapters. They sponsor a variety of activities; for example, I attended the Democrats Abroad presidential caucus in 2004 (Belgium didn't have a branch, so American expats in Belgium could participate in the French caucus).

GSteed Jan 23rd, 2008 03:26 AM

Don't neglect the information from the US Embassy in France.

Grcxx3 Jan 23rd, 2008 03:33 AM

Assuming since you said "family" that you have kids and they they will be going to school there. So - also take advantage of the resources at the school. There may be a "welcoming" group or something similar.

I am on our school parent's association board and I am contacted when there are new families getting ready to move to our location and I contact them by email and try to answer any questions they may have. Of course, I try to handle the families that have children in the same basic age range as mine. I would be worthless with anyone asking about diapers, etc!!

For both our moves, the schools were great about setting up "penpals" for my kids so that they had someone to answer questions for them. Also, when we got to the school, my boys felt like they already had one "friend."

I'm jealous! I'd love to live in France!

Cicerone Jan 23rd, 2008 04:15 AM

Websites I found useful when living in Switzerland, Singapore and now when living in Hong Kong:

Also try the website for British Council in France, which has a ton of info (

I agree that the US embassy website can be helpful, the main one is in Paris, see, but there are consulates in about 8 other cities, see

The FAWCO recco is very good, I have belonged to American Women's Associations in every place I have lived and they are usually a good source of information on "real life" in a place. The Paris branch is

Don't know if you found these in your search:

For schools in France, try these: (British School of Paris)

BTilke Jan 23rd, 2008 04:35 AM

One caveat: If you go to the American Club in Lyon site, do NOT click on the Newsletter option. It prompts you for a password and won't stop prompting you for one even if you try and quit that section...and it won't let you quit that section without a password. Annoying! (I had to go to my Task Manager and "end task" to get out of the site.)

gruezi Jan 23rd, 2008 05:13 AM

Dear FT2000,

We relocated last year to Switzerland from CT for a temporary assignment for my husband.

I second the suggestion to ask at the international schools for help/recommendations. That was where I got the most information on everything from ex-pat Yahoo groups to doctors, realtors, etc. When you do your school visits, ask for any material at all they have for new families. They may have a person assigned to you through the Parents Association and that individual will be like a guardian angel.

Also, choose the school based on how welcome all of you feel there - your whole family will be part of the school not just the student attending. I found one school much easier to work with than the other and although I have a child in each, I still prefer the one that felt "easier to deal with" and friendlier right from the start.

I also found a lot of practical information and emotional support for myself through the American Women's Club (FAWCO) here in Zurich. They publish a wonderful ex-pat guide to Living in Zurich which is priceless and also offer a course for new ex-pats. Perhaps there is something similar in Lyons.

If you have relocation experts and country guides you are very fortunate. Many global companies these days are providing less and less support on these moves and beyond the physical "move" you are often on your own to figure things out.

Good luck! I'm sure this will be an incredible experience for your family. It has been for ours - don't pass up the opportunity.

How old are your children?


BTilke Jan 23rd, 2008 05:27 AM

I never joined the AWC in Brussels, I thought there was too much emphasis on families with kids and also on the American expat enclaves of Waterloo and RSG. Too little that was relevant for working women (most of the AWC activities took place weekdays between 9 am and 5 pm), couples without kids, and for Americans who preferred living in neighborhoods that weren't heavily tilted towards expats. In general, I wish the AWC orgs would pay more attention to women who aren't the "trailing spouse" and who don't have kids and/or are looking for activities that aren't so heavily family oriented.
Gruezi, how long will you be staying in Zurich? Is it a permanent move?

NorCalif Jan 23rd, 2008 06:01 AM

I had the same problem, as my husband is planning an academic sabbatical in Europe next year.

First we thought it might be in Paris (but now it looks like it will be at a lab in Amsterdam). Anyway, when I was researching living in Paris I was able to find tons of online info by googling "expat France" or "expat Paris". Found all kinds of sites - some of them already mentioned in posts above, also blogs from people already doing it, etc.

hetismij Jan 23rd, 2008 06:08 AM

If you do end up in Amsterdam there is a big US expat community, and one good place to meet them is the American bookshop!

gruezi Jan 23rd, 2008 06:30 AM


No, we are here for 2-3 years. We just completed our first year. I have 2 teen-aged girls we moved and I worked in the US but don't here.

I understand your situation with the AWC being more oriented to the trailing spouse. Even as someone who worked in the US and doesn't here, it can feel a bit different to be in a women's club. I only participate in 2 functions a month that I have found suit my needs very well. The coffees and cocktail parties are just not my thing so I don't attend. I haven't found the activities family-oriented though - my husband and children have never been to the club or any of its events. I think there is a contingent of moms with young children, but I'm past all that and don't do those things. Funny, the book group I'm in through AWC basically forbids children (even infants) which I think is funny - but I'm in the minority. Well, you'll appreciate this, they also would not be very welcoming of Republicans as they are quite the vocal group of Democrats;)

On vacation in Greece I met a single American woman (40 years old) who says she joins AWC the minute she moves to a new country. She is now in Amsterdam. So, maybe each organization is different in meeting the needs of its membership.

Are you still in Brussels or back home? Where is "home"? I often wonder how I'll fare on the return as my life here is so different and I imagine I'll be a bit bored when I get back to my sleepy CT town...

On another thread here, someone recommended to the editors that we start an Expat forum. I think it would be great. I often find my opinions/experiences as an ex-pat differ radically from those who travel to Europe as tourists.

I am especially sensitive to anti-Americanism on this board as I get hit with so much of it in my daily life, as do my children. Gets very old after a while, but after a year I have learned effective tactics for dealing with it. I wished I had known in the beginning how to handle that sort of thing.


NorCalif Jan 23rd, 2008 06:41 AM

Thanks Hetimij!

NorCalif Jan 23rd, 2008 06:56 AM

There is a series of books aimed at people who are moving to a country (sort of like travel guides but for prospective residents rather than tourists). They are called Culture Shock xxx - where xxx is the name of the country.

Haven't seen the one on France, but found the one on the Netherlands informative and useful. It's a small book, necessarily general and simplistic, but it tells you a lot about the culture - things you need to know as a person living in a new country. It covers all sorts of customs - business customs, also things like what to expect when you're invited to dinner at someone's house: the customs about hostess gifts, punctuality, food, how to tell when it's time to leave, etc. The Netherlands one is written by ex-diplomats as I recall.

Anyway, you might check out the one on France - I know you've visited France a lot, but as a person doing business there you may encounter situations you haven't when you've just been vacationing.

blackduff Jan 23rd, 2008 08:14 AM

<b>I am especially sensitive to anti-Americanism on this board as I get hit with so much of it in my daily life, as do my children.</b>

I haven't seen much anti-americanism on this board. Manytimes the people who critic others can be Americans too.

Maybe you're seeing other threads which I read. Sometimes the posts are really about giving thoughts, not specifically about Americanism.

I've seen your posts often. Again, I haven't seen the Anti-Americanism myself.


kleeblatt Jan 23rd, 2008 08:23 AM

Hi Gruezi,

I'm sorry about the anti-Americanism. Being in Switzerland over twenty years, I've never seen blatent anti-Americanism until Bush went to war on Iraq. The idiot.

Since then, I've sided with the locals and tell them we are all wishing for a new US President.

And then we talk about Obama and Clinton and agree that either would make a spectacular President.

There's hope yet!

gruezi Jan 23rd, 2008 09:06 AM


I think your comment was meant to be supportive and so that is how I will view it, and I guess I should prepare for a barrage of feedback, but...

Here's another perspective to consider...

My family and I were on vacation at a very nice resort in Switzerland. Each night of our stay, the owner would come to our table to say hello and make sure all was going well.

On the last night, he came to our table and said slightly sarcastically, &quot;So I guess you need to head home tomorrow for your big elections?&quot;

I responded, &quot;Actually, we live in Zurich, so no we don't, but I'm glad I'm not there for the elections as I get too emotional about them anyway.&quot;

He replied, &quot;Well, anybody will be better than what you have now!&quot;

Okay, my children and I are Democrats and my husband is a Republican who doesn't care for Bush. Nonetheless, we were all shocked to silence! Imagine an American hotel owner telling guests from a another country that &quot;anybody would be better than ____________&quot; (fill-in that country's current political leader)

How does he know our politics?

Coincidentally, my wonderful neighbor here in Zurich is also American and a Republican. I don't understand or agree with her politics, but she has been so good to our family this year as we settled in and we all love her. She was with her Swiss husband and family at the table next to ours that night. They have been going to this resort for many years. She was shocked and found the owners comment really unprofessional. I did too.

More than 30% of Americans still support Bush. The way I was brought up, it is rude to put down someone's politics regardless of where they are from, particularly when they are a guest.

As my 13-year-old says, &quot;It's not very nice.&quot;

frequenttraveler - sorry to have hijacked your thread with this political discussion.


Sallygirl42 Jan 23rd, 2008 09:30 AM

BTilke, that was the impression I got from the AWC here. I am single and work in Brussels, so I do not have much in common with trailing spouses.

gruezi, too bad you are not in Belgium, I've not had anyone make negative comments thus far about America, probably because there still isn't a permanent government here :) I am even from Texas so I've been prepared for the worst, but luckily have not had anyone say anything yet...

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