- Download our Moving to Paris Guide (PDF)
Paris offers a famously romantic and exciting lifestyle for expats to enjoy, with hundreds of first-rate restaurants, some of the best shopping in the world and a stylish nightlife scene. Expats in Paris will have no trouble at all finding places to see or things to do in the city.
Nightlife in Paris
The City of Lights truly comes alive at night, with many distinct areas catering to their own type of night owl. Expats looking to dress the part and try their hand at getting into swanky high-end clubs should meander down the famous Champs-Élysées, a notable stamping ground of Parisian wealth and beauty.
Those after a more relaxed atmosphere should head to Marais and Bastille, which are host to a wonderful selection of bars and clubs and popular with the city’s international community. The more alternative expats in search of live rock and industrial atmosphere may prefer the Grands Boulevards, which have a variety of great venues.
As a general rule, bars in Paris start filling up around 10pm and are open until around 2am, whereas clubs tend to pick up around midnight and continue until 4am.
Expats wanting a uniquely Parisian night out could catch a cabaret show at the world-famous Moulin Rouge, located in the city district of Pigalle, or a production of l’Opera National de Paris at the Palais Garnier.
Shopping in Paris
Paris is a perfect destination for shopaholics, as it presents plenty of opportunities to peruse aisles and lighten wallets. Expats can browse the boutiques along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré for some of the best in haute couture, or stroll down the Rue Étienne Marcel for chic high-end fashion.
The Champs-Élysées area is home to the famous Guerlain Parfumerie as well as several malls. Les Halles underground mall features cheap knock-offs and trendy wares. There are several fantastic flea markets near the city gates to explore, as well as open-air markets trading in fresh produce, flowers and clothing.
Eating out in Paris
Paris has plenty of restaurants and cafés to suit all palates. As one of the world's culinary capitals, Paris is famed for its gourmet eateries. The city’s many pâtisseries also prove that food as an art form is alive and well.
The French are famous for their food, but those expats who've had their fill of croissants and crème brûlée won't struggle to find restaurants offering international cuisines such as Chinese, Indian, Italian and Thai.
Outdoor activities in Paris
With a culture as serious about its leisure time as the French, it's no wonder that Paris has plenty to offer those looking to spend the day outdoors. The city’s climate is highly seasonal, though, so the outdoor activities available often depend on the time of year.
Paris is home to many parks in which expats can enjoy leisurely strolls throughout the year. Parc de la Villette is a particular favourite, as throughout the summer months a large screen is put up for Parisians to relax and watch classic films. The selection usually includes English as well as French cinema, and a screening can be a great place to enjoy a picnic. While open-air movies aren't available in Paris during the winter, expats wanting to spend time outdoors during the frosty months can instead enjoy numerous ice-skating rinks around the city.
Meeting people in Paris
Making friends in a new city can be daunting. One of the best ways to start meeting like-minded people is to join a local club or meet-up group. Here are a few suggestions.
Joining a book club is the best way for book lovers to make friends in Paris. The Immigrant Book Club meets monthly to discuss contemporary English literature.
What better way to meet good people than by volunteering? Formed in 1985, 'The Restaurants of the Heart' is an association devoted to helping the poor, particularly in terms of distributing free meals, and they're always looking for helping hands.
Joining a running club is a great way to stay in shape and meet people at the same time. Founded by marathoners and half-marathoners, Let's Run Paris now trains for races starting from 5km to full marathons, and participants can join a variety of pace groups.
With over 50,000 members, Expats in Paris is a great public group for expats to ask for and provide each other with help.
►For more on entertainment and exciting annual events in the city, see What's On in Paris
"What do I enjoy most about Paris? A hard question to answer in a single breath. Of course there are the art exhibits just a metro ride away, world-class monuments and architecture, and restaurants with vendettas against my waist line. But what I enjoy the most is picking up a simple spread of bread, cheese and wine from any local shop and then sitting by the Seine with friends." Read more about Canadian expat Dorian's experiences in Paris.
Are you an expat living in Paris?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Paris. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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