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Why London attracts French expats

February 24th, 2011 2 comments

The Economist has a feature this week about the growing French expatriate population in the Greater London area: 400,000 and counting, according to some estimates, with cultural, economic and social implications that go along with such a presence. In fact, the French Parliament will soon have a new constituency to represent French citizens in Britain and Northern Europe.

It turns out that in interviews with expats, some of the reasons for the flock include: high-paying job opportunities, lower income and corporate taxes, a chance to raise one’s children bilingual and, perhaps most importantly, a different “international feel” about London that many French do not find in London. Excerpts below.

What do you think of this article? Do you think France is less business-friendly than the UK, and what do you think should be done to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, lower taxes and more business-friendly policies conducive to private enterprise and investment? Is President Sarkozy on the right track?

The French community in London
Paris-on-Thames
The French influx to London suggests what governments can and can’t do to boost their cities’ allure

“…French Londoners are often in their prime. The archetype is a banker with children at the Lycée Français in South Kensington, the established hub of the community (“the 17th arrondissement”), who misses the food and weather of home. The City, a bigger financial centre than Paris, is keen on French workers, especially traders—products of an educational system that turns out mathematics whizzes in droves. It is rational interests, rather than cultural affinity, that draw this type of Frenchman to London: high-paid work, lower taxes (especially on wealth), and the chance to raise bilingual children…

…The superior beauty and efficiency of Paris often come at the price of dynamism. Many young French arrivals in London say they are fleeing rigid social codes, hierarchical corporate culture and a sense of distance from the global swirl of people and ideas. “It is hard to go back once you have tasted the internationalism here,” says Jessica Moyal, who works in private equity.

French twenty-somethings see London as a “gateway to globalisation”, agrees Édouard Braine, the French consul-general, who compares the ritual sojourns in the city taken by his younger compatriots to the globe-trotting gap years favoured by their British peers. Not all secure high-flying jobs: many come to study, or to work as au pairs or waiters while perfecting their English, or to find a niche in London’s huge creative industries. Many young French of African or Arab origin also say that there is less discrimination in Britain….

….Far more likely to pull talented French people back home than Britain’s economic doldrums is the prospect of France becoming more business-friendly. Nicolas Sarkozy is chipping away at taxes and regulations, and wants Paris to expand through private-sector development. That sort of thing is within the gift of politicians. But replicating the loose, globalised way of life in London—the anything-goes culture that draws a certain kind of young French person—will be much harder.”

Christmas events in Paris, Coldplay’s new Christmas song

December 15th, 2010 No comments

Tis the season, n’est-ce pas ? In addition to the events listed by American Clubs of France, you can find more events in Paris for the holidays at this website.

According to Expatica:

“The new comprehensive english speaking guide on what’s on in Paris during Christmas and New Year’s Holidays. Where to eat, special Christmas menu; nightclubs for the best New Year’s Eve or celebrate at the theatre, ballet, opera, cabaret or burlesque: find the most amazing and unique Christmas gift with a Parisian flavour and much much more! Find out a new tip every day from now until Christmas 2010.”

One of the most helpful posts is perhaps the list of illuminated neighborhoods in Paris (see below).

Joyeuses fêtes !

Neighborhoods illuminated:

Rue de Richelieu, Paris 1
Rue Montorgueil, Passage des Panoramas, Paris 2e
Old streets of the Temple and Britain, Paris 3e
Rue Saint-Paul and Rambuteau, Paris 4e
Rue Mouffetard, Place de l’Eglise Saint-Médard and place of Contrescarpe, Paris 5e
Boulevard and the Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres and the Rue du Dragon, Paris 6e
Rue de Grenelle and Boulevard Raspail, Paris 7
Carré de Castellane, rue Royale and François 1er, Paris 8th
Streets and Vignon Caumartin, Paris 9e
Marché Saint-Quentin and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, Paris 10e
Rue Oberkampf Paris 11e
Rue de Charenton and the Viaduc des Arts, Paris 12e
Avenue des Gobelins and Italy, Paris 13e
Streets of Alesia, Daguerre, and Brézin Didot, Paris 14e
Lecourbe streets and Cambronne, Paris 15e
Streets Duret, Lesueur, Pergolesi, des Belles Feuilles, Annunciation and Avenue de Passy, Paris 16e
Rue de Courcelles, Levis, Poncelet and avenue des Ternes, Paris 17e
Place and Rue des Abbesses, rue Lepic and High Montmartre, Paris 18e
Secretan Street and Avenue of Flanders, Paris 19e
Rue de Belleville, Jordan and the Pyrenees, Paris 20e …

Lastly, I leave you with my new favorite Christmas song, “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay, filmed in London.

Winter storms hit France, Europe; flights disrupted

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

As you have probably seen on the news, snow and cold weather has hit large parts of Europe, including a good portion of France. Although Paris has been spared most of the snow, it is still quite cold here, in the low 20’s at night (-7 Celsius), more like an average Chicago winter day. But in other parts of France, my friends in Grenoble, Lyon, Annecy, Eastern France all report anywhere between 8 and 16 inches of snow, so it’s quite a significant snowfall. England and Germany have been hit hard, as well as Poland, Italy and several other countries.

You can get updates for France from Le Point where they say that likely 25% of flights at Roissy CDG are cancelled and 10% at Orly for Thursday. But they said snow will last another 24 hours in France before likely turning to rain. Authorities are having a difficult time de-icing and salting highways, so be careful driving in France. Here is a map of temperatures (Celsius) for Thursday in France.

CNN also covers the storm in Europe, and flights at airports like London Gatwick, Frankfurt and Munich have been significantly disrupted with cancellations and major delays (NB their 3rd picture is Lyon’s Place Bellecour). BBC writes that flights have been severely disrupted as well in Brussels, Vienna, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Geneva, Berlin, London Heathrow and Prague. Over 3,000 people in high-speed German trains had to spend the night in the train as they were blocked by weather. They too have pictures of the storm in Europe (once again with 4th picture in Lyon).

You can get travel updates for Paris airports here. Check with your airline as well and the airports for your cities. France24 has a comprehensive guide for travel in snow-covered France and Europe. High-speed rail like TGV in France has been somewhat delayed. Check Infolignes SNCF for alerts.

For French weather, check Météo France. Bundle up, save travels!

U.S. terror alert raised in Europe

October 4th, 2010 1 comment

New evidence has come forward recently on the European terror plot, leading the U.S. State Department to raise its level to an official terror alert.

There is information that Osama bin Laden has been linked to the financing of a terrorist plot in Europe in high-tourist density area (danke, Der Spiegel):

German Islamist Ahmad Sidiqi has delivered new details about the apparent new terrorist plot against Europe and the United States. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, he has told his interrogators that al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden approved the attack plans and also provided financing…He met with Sheik Younis al-Mauretani early this summer under conspiratorial circumstances in the city of Mir Ali in Pakistan, the German claimed. He said he discussed possible attacks in several European countries, including France and Britain. He allegedly claimed that Osama bin Laden had given his personal approval for the plans and that he had also provided some of the money that was needed for the attacks.”

So now the American authorities are urging citizens to be “vigilant” in Europe (BBC). So much so that the State Department is likely to raise this from travel alert to travel warning, the most serious level.

French authorities have detained a man who is suspected of threatening to bomb Paris St. Lazare train station, but no connection has been found to terror plots or networks. But European authorities have stated their approval of American warnings, saying that they too are being vigilant and increasing security presence in London, Paris, Berlin and elsewhere. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and Berlin’s central train station have been said to be among targets for Mumbai-style commando executions. Stay safe and alert of your surroundings, but don’t let this hamper your travel plans; I just had a great weekend in London and now back to work in Paris.

Europe’s “austerity measures” hitting some hard

September 24th, 2010 No comments

In this New York Times special report, Europeans speak out on government plans across the continent to bring public finances under control amid corruption and suspicion of governments not doing enough for the common man. Well this currently in France amid protests against raising the retirement age as part of a larger pension reform package to help control spending. Those who are protesting see bankers getting large bonuses while they are forced to work longer. But France’s retirement age is the lowest in Europe and many French know that their social safety net cannot remain the same for future generations.

You can see a series of insightful video interviews from Athens, Madrid, Paris, London and Frankfurt here.

Also, an interactive map of Europe’s debt crisis.

“…Some acknowledged that they might have contributed to the crisis by spending beyond their means, and said there was probably no alternative to bailing out banks and countries like Greece to prevent a wider downturn. They are, grudgingly, willing to accept cuts in pensions and salaries, provided that politicians, whom they see as complicit in the crisis, quickly clean up the mess. Yet despite the problems, they would also be unhappy to see the European Union unwind…’We are part of a generation who knows that things can vanish,” said Mathilde Donovan, 29, a French public relations executive….”

Most Expensive Cities for Expat Living

The Economist blogged about this new list of rankings by Mercer, a consulting firm, for the most expensive cities for expats. The final ranking includes 214 cities in order of cost of living that includes “a basket of some 200 items” that includes “housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.”

Who comes out on top? You may be surprised, as Africa has 3 in the top ten: Luanda, Angola (1); Ndjamena, Chad (3); Libreville, Gabon (7). Paris comes in tied with London, at #17.
Why Africa?

The complete list can be found here.

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