For French expats, the charm of London remains in place despite the crisis

From our special correspondent in London,

Christian asked us to talk about his love for the british capital around a Diet Coke. For Fanny, it was a coffee to share. And we give the point of originality to Arthur and his invitation to his own creperie, in the Ta ‘Turu Shop. Through these meetings, one thing is certain: these expats The French in London did not come here for their love of beer. And shame on our Machiavellian plan to turn this report into a tour of the most famous pubs in the capital.

Anyway, walking the streets of the city for two days, you have to face the facts: the British capital is no longer in the mood to party, by dint of suffering the impacts of a double political crisis and economic Après sept ans de vie outre-Manche, Christian, à la fois guide, community manager, professeur de français et 36 autres métiers, voit bien la différence : « La première fois que je suis sorti en boîte ici, je suis rentré à 4 hours in the morning. And I was fascinated to see, beyond the bus window, still so many people outside. London was always full and alive, H24. Disappointment in his last outing, a few weeks ago: “Arriving home at three in the afternoon, there was hardly anyone outside. People stay at home”, portrays the almost fifty-year-old, defending himself from being “a night owl”.

privileged and delighted

The French community – 300,000 expatriates in the Kingdom, half of them in Greater London, according to the latest estimates – admits it: the city has changed a bit. But if the livers are safer, the hearts continue to beat with love. forever and more for London. yes, despite crisisthe charm still works for these Frenchmen.

Especially since most of these expatriates consider themselves “privileged” in the face of the current tsunami of inflation, which is inundating even the middle class. “Income level, we are a bit above average,” admits Fanny, 31, who works in Finance to City. Clear, rising prices it can be seen anyway: “Loan rates are above 5%, and house prices are still unbelievably high,” Bertrand, 30, commercial director at a digital agency, who dreams of buying with his Australian girlfriend. With rare exceptions, these exiles eat their fill and continue to go out for a bit, which is no longer the case for half the british.

“The whole planet is in London, and it shows”

So we find ourselves sheltered from the economic crisis and the London rain – phew, some classics are still there – in the pub The Chandos. Here, Christian praises the merits of a “cosmopolitan city. The whole planet is in London, and it shows. Diversity is not hidden, it is shown. » Make way for the famous chorus « There is no weight of ”Qu’on dira-t-on?”. The atmosphere is full of freedoms”, which you may have already heard from a friend at Eurostar.

Another great classic quoted: the British calm. Fanny draws the inevitable comparison between the French tearing themselves to pieces to get on the first RER that comes by and the courteous queues for the London Underground. And for all our chauvinism, the observation is hard to argue with. Furthermore, English civility is not limited to waiting quietly: “I am less upset here than in Paris. Londoners are very polite and very nice.” For Arthur, British phlegm comes with a welcome social calm: “There is no stupidity of ”yellow vests” or the SNCF strike on Christmas day… And when you call the state services, you manage to speak to someone friendly, while in France, for someone to call you, you have to put up with it… »

Work, the main reason to come (and stay)

Let’s admire a little, between two interviews, the beauty of London. Its colorful markets, its monuments, its intrepid squirrels, its old houses and its green parks. Here too, this deserves some fiery statements from our Frenchies. “Yes, it is the crisis, but London preserves its museums, its history, its cultural wealth. It’s hard to get bored,” Christian boasts, while no waiter came to take our order (the Coke Zero will never be served). Bertrand loves “the feeling of space. We don’t feel as cramped as in Paris, there are many huge parks in the middle of the city, in different neighborhoods, we’ve never been”. Even Arthur, who sees himself as “a forever Parisian”, recognizes “the beauty of the many green spaces”.

A beauty that also inspires work. Fanny joins us at a cafe near Tower Bridge, a few steps from the city. “If she were in Paris, she would work in La Défense, a place I don’t like. There I have beautiful neighborhoods nearby, the Thames, places where it’s nice to walk. “We have Google Mapsé: to reach the quays of the Seine, the Parisian equivalent of the Tower Bridge, from La Défense, it would take 1h15 on foot.

“Brexit has made space”

We continue with the professional aspect, one of the main reasons mentioned here for expatriating. Except Arthur, who definitely doesn’t do anything like everyone else, who joined London out of love for the other half of him in June 2019. Listen instead to Bertrand bragging about the opportunities in London: “more numerous than in Paris. The bosses leave you very lucky, do not look too much at the diplomas. Observation validated by Fanny: “I graduated from Evry, a little-known school in Britain, and they recruited me anyway. And as misfortune is good in all, “many foreign workers left with brexit, which frees up space. It is very easy to change work. Within a month, he had found a new base. »

It wasn’t just the hiring that appealed to her: “We start and finish early, you don’t have to stay until your boss leaves, which leaves you more time for yourself and enjoying the city.” Until 3 in the morning, if we follow it well.

Vince Fernandez

"Professional food trailblazer. Devoted communicator. Friendly writer. Avid problem solver. Tv aficionado. Lifelong social media fanatic."

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