Making Friends in France: 10 tips for foreigners breaking the ice

The French are known for being rather reserved, so get the local's tips to making friends in France. From places to go, activities to try, and more.
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Getting to know people in France can be a challenge. Plenty of people make the transition from one country to another, but you can still have a hard time making friends once you get there.

We often plan a lot for the logistics of moving to France, but not how to settle once we get there. But building a support system in a new country is one of the most important parts of a successful move and one’s mental well-being.

There are plenty of ways to making friends in France, as you are settling into a new culture. As someone who moved here myself as an adult, I’ve had plenty of experience. So let’s find out the top tips to meeting people in France, shall we? Allons-y!

Is it hard to make friends in France?

The number one complaint that foreigners often make about the French, is that it can be quite difficult to make friends in France. The French tend to keep to their own circle of friends, which is more often than not people they went to school and university with.

This is most often the case when living in larger cities like Paris, where everyone is always rushing around and spontaneous contact is much more difficult. This can make it quite difficult for newcomers to break into those circles, leading to loneliness and frustration.

Tips for making French friends

1. Take language classes.

One of the best ways to make friends in France is to learn the language. The French are notoriously shy about speaking in English so a few steps in their direction will make all the difference.

Even if you don’t speak French fluently, making an effort to speak the language can show locals that you are interested in their culture and willing to make an effort to communicate with them.

Joining a language class will also allow you to meet people who are have recently moved to France and are in the same position as you.

2. Join social media.

Social media isn’t just for dating. You can also connect with locals through groups or or the French site “On va sortir“.

On Facebook, there are several France-based groups in English and French, for local neighborhoods, parents’ groups, hobbies and interests, women’s only groups, etc.

As with anything, you have to put in the effort to communicate and meet up, but you may meet some wonderful people if you are patient.

3. Go to lunch with your coworkers.

One of the best ways to make friends and improve your french is to go to lunch with your coworkers (or fellow students if you are in school). The French spend quite a lot of time at work and with 2 hours lunches and breaks, this is a moment of détente and camaraderie that you shouldn’t miss out on.

Even if you are not fluent in French, just listening to your colleagues speak will help you improve your French. In addition, you can ask for introductions from your coworkers, and make an effort to connect with people through these connections.

Paris restaurant terrasse

4. Get involved in activities in your area.

Another way to make friends in France is to participate in activities and events that are popular among locals. Every town in France offers a local community center with all sorts of activities from art lessons to computer classes.

This could include joining a sports team such as a running club or soccer team or taking a dance class. Join a club or organization that aligns with your interests, such as a hiking group, book club, or cooking class.

5. Join a language exchange.

While the average French person may be shy to converse in English to a stranger, many are actually keen to improve their English.

As you find yourself settling in and building your circle, you may find that people may be willing to do a one-on-one language exchange with you. You can then build on those connections by perhaps asking for more introductions and interesting social events to join.

6. Volunteer for a local cause.

If you have some time, consider volunteering for a local charity or non-profit organization, as this can be a great way to meet people who share your values and interests.

You can also attend community events and festivals, such as a neighborhood street get-together Fête des Voisins or Fête de la Musique.

7. Don’t stay in an expat bubble.

As you are building your social circle, you may find yourself surrounded by expats and foreigners in France. This might seem comfortable, but after a few years you may find your circle diminishing as your new friends return home.

It is always a good idea to continue trying new things and being open to new experiences. This will give you the opportunity to meet new people and learn about different aspects of French culture.

Making Friends in France: 10 tips for foreigners breaking the ice 1

8. Have an apéro and socialize like the French.

One of the best ways to get to know people better, is organizing an apéro either at your home or in a bar or restaurant.

It is a casual happy hour get-together that has become a ritual in France after a long day of work, a wonderful excuse to sit down with a drink and enjoy the evening. Pick a time and a place and invite people you’ve met to join.

It is not a formal dinner, but rather involves eating and chatting with a few glasses of wine. if you are organizing it at home, put together a few platters such as charcuterie, cheese, and crudités.

9. Stop judging and enjoy.

Just because everything is not like as it is at home doesn’t mean you should give up. A useful tip for making friends in France is to be patient and persistent. Building friendships takes time, and it’s important to be willing to put in the effort and be patient.

Be open to making friends from different backgrounds and cultures, and learn from their experiences and perspectives.

10. Accept the things that set you apart.

Finally, don’t be afraid to be yourself and be open and friendly with others. If there are particular topics or interests you enjoy, there are bound to be others who enjoy the same things.

French people are known for their hospitality and warm personalities, and they will likely appreciate your openness and willingness to make friends. And who knows, you just might meet that special someone 😉


If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about living in Paris. A bientôt!

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