London, France’s sixth biggest city
The UK’s capital has never been as populated by the French people as it is nowadays. With more than 300 000 “Frenchies” all over the city, more French people live in London than in Bordeaux, Nantes or Strasbourg; some now regard London as France’s sixth biggest city in terms of population.
The ‘Frenchification’ phenomenon can be explained in many ways. The easiness of migration is one of the most important factors; as European Union (EU) citizens, they do not need any registration with any authority to move to Britain. The UK represents for many French people the closest, with London only being two hours away from Paris, and easiest country, to help perfect their English. In addition to improving their ability to speak English, London appears to be a gateway to start a new life for some people. Many workers and students have decided to take a one-way flight and live in London, only come back to their homeland for holidays.
I recently met a French art director, Hugo Catarina, and I remember him telling me he first came to the capital seven years ago just to have a look, and could not imagine anymore having his life back in France.
The eccentric British way of life has attracted our compatriots since the 1990s, specifically when London boomed with Britain’s economy.
The enormous range of different backgrounds settled in London makes the capital one of the most international and culturally diverse city in the world.This impressive melting-pot also tends to make the Londoners more open-minded and adventurous than the French people.
‘If you want security and quiet holidays you stay in France. If you crave adventure and want to get new skills, you come here’ said one of my French friends studying in the UK.
Despite the attractiveness to life in the UK, there are a few unsuitable aspects French people are struggling to get used to. While French people are passionate for good food in all forms, the British cuisine bares simple and a bit less sophisticated.
Also, some struggle to become acclimated with the weather in Britain, especially for French people who come from the warm and sunny south of France. The change from the beautiful sunshine to the cloudy and rainy London can be radical.
Even though there are some difficult aspects in the UK to adapt to when you come from France, London is often characterized as the most cosmopolitan, original and addictive city in the world.Today there are French people in every corner of London and their numbers have been growing. With over 250 languages spoken in the capital, hearing some French speakers on the streets seems very common now.
As a French Journalism student in the UK, I will do my best, from now on, to be your London correspondent once a month and write what I think you will enjoy reading and is worth being reported to you. Feel free to e-mail me if you want some special subjects, events or stories to be covered!