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The French Also Live Abroad

Tuesday 18 August 2009

There may be as many French living in the United Kingdom, as Brits living in France, according to latest official statistics.

A recent survey by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs found nearly 1.5 million French living abroad and registered with the local French consulate.

However, as registration with the consulate is not mandatory, officials estimate that the true figure of those living abroad is around 2 million.

The census showed that the most popular destination of choice is Switzerland (138,349), followed by the United States (117,076) and the United Kingdom (112,660).

If those not registered with the consulates are added, then officials estimate the number of French expats living in the United Kingdom at around 250,000, (with potentially a similar number also living in the United States).

This figure is similar to the number of British expats believed to be living in France, although if second homes are added, then the total number of those from the UK who own a property in France is believed to be between 350,000 and 500,000.

The figures for Switzerland, as well as Germany (106,842), reflects the large number of French cross border workers and business owners who have chosen to live in neighbouring countries for primarily tax reasons.

Other popular relocation destinations for the French are Belgium (90,588), Spain (82,050), Canada (68,075), Morocco (36,818), and China (22,231).

French in London

The census showed that around 60% of the French in the UK lived within Greater London, with the majority aged between 25 and 40 years, confirming the generally held view that most French are in the UK to work, not to retire!

Indeed, South Kensington in South West London is often referred to by the French as le quartier français de Londres, containing as it does homes for many hundreds of French families, the French Embassy, a French Institute and a large range of French food shops and bistros.

There is also a large French Lycée attended by around 3000 French pupils, while elsewhere in South and West London there are several French maternity schools and a primary school.

The census showed that the number of French living abroad had increased by 7.6% on the previous year, and over the past ten years had increased by an average of 3.6%.

Although countries in Asia and the Middle East accounted for only 8.5% and 6.6% respectively of those living abroad, these countries also showed the largest growth of 10% and 12.6% over last year.

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