3 November 2016

Aga - Expat in Lyon, France

Aga - Expat in Lyon, France

We’ve had the chance to talk to Aga, 34, a Polish expat who has moved to France with her partner. Ms. Aga who has been living there for almost two years, now works as an online marketer.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I come from Poland, from a lovely & charming town called Tarnowskie Gory which is located in the south of my country, next to Katowice and not far away from Krakow.


Q: What made you move out of Poland?

A: Love…for France, Lyon and not only…Being serious, I have already moved to and spend over six years in England working. Now I live in France with my partner who is half French and half British.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I live in Lyon, France. It is a hometown of my partner. On top of that, I felt in love with Lyon from the first sight… Jadore Lyon and so once I have visited it for the first time, I knew I will come back…


Q: How long have you been living in France?

A: It is almost two years since I first came to Lyon.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I live with my partner who is Lyonnais. So this is only me who has been adjusting to expat life. I appreciate the fact it has been much easier for me to settle in France.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I miss my family and friends very much. There are moments where I am very sad to be away and too sad to call. But there is my understanding partner next to me who supports me a lot. Having said so there are many other moments when I am positive and happily call my family. They call me often as well. And on top of that, I try to visit them every three months. Also, I stay in touch with my friends via WhatsUp, FB and my blog: Shopaholicfromhome. So they know how I am and I know how they are.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Lyonnais are amazing & good & kind & understanding & funny & helpful people. I was worried to come over to France as the stereotypes say that French are quite rude, not tolerant and don’t speak English. Well, so far, the locals I met, have been very nice to me, open to new culture and speak English very well.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in France? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: I haven’t been focused on making friends. Fortunately, it came quite natural. There are different ways you can socialize in France and meet people. I have actually written about it here. I met great international friends on the language course. I used the MeetUp, FB groups, and  expat website to socialize with others. My blog has actually been quite useful to get to know new people. In this way, I met international as well as French people.


Q: How does the cost of living in France compared to your home?

A: It is very expensive here in comparison to Poland and even England.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: Obviously it depends on. From 1 euro to 5 euros!

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: It also depends if this is lunch or dinner. You can get set menu which is always cheaper and starts around 10 euros for a 2-course meal.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Oh la la…in the very famous Paul Bocus restaurant you will pay the min of 200 euros. But being realistic (there are not many people visiting Paul Bocus restaurant, people choose his brasseries – still expensive but reasonable) in a good Lyonnais restaurant you will pay a minimum of 30 euros for a meal. But bear in mind French always have at least 2-course meal, more often 3 and traditionally 5!

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Good wine in a supermarket will be a minimum of 7 euros. The cigarettes…well, I have never smoked so I have no idea how much does it cost worldwide.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in France?

A: Well, be ready to have all the documents, copies ready. There is a lot of red tapes. Practice handwriting, you might need it for writing cheques! Yes, French can and do pay by cheques in many places…even supermarkets, doctors etc.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: I don’t need a visa as Poland is within EU.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in France is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: The French healthcare is very good but…be prepared to pay the doctor for an appointment (it will usually be reimbursed!). On the other hand, you will be nicely surprised as many medicines are being reimbursed. It is normal in France that on top of the national healthcare, everyone has a mutual.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or France? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A:  Being citizen of EU makes all things much simple. Therefore, I could fairly easy register here in France and receive my healthcare cover. Fairly easy, after preparing all the documents and waiting few weeks.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to France? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I didn’t do a big move to France. I have come to Lyon just with a one (very big) luggage and then I have been bringing more and more things.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Language, job, friends & family. All those things cannot be rushed and you need to be patient to get fluent in the language, to find a good job once you speak French well, to make good friends and to deal with being homesick. Other practical things like housing, schools, banking, and healthcare can be researched and learned from Mr. Google and many helpful expats.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in France?

A: Oh la la…how can I start. The top positive sides of living in France, for me, would be:

  • Beautiful country with many places to visit…sea, ocean, mountains, castles etc
  • Culture to discover
  • Interesting food to eat
  • Access to the best wine, cheese which you will not find anywhere else

And as the top negative sides of living in France I would say, are:

  • French difficult language
  • Red Tape
  • Cost of living


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Jadore Lyon and I have been exploring the city & France a lot. There are so many things to do in Lyon and you will struggle what to choose. I have made a summary of the Top Things to Do in Lyon For Free here as well as I have summarised the things which seem to be useful for expats on here. I hope you can find it useful and if you know others I would appreciate comments so I can also learn something new. I am constantly on a way to discover Lyon & France!


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: For now I am very happy here in Lyon. I believe that Your Home is Where Your Heart is…for me it is France.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: To enjoy! To explore, try and discover new things, places, and specialities. To learn new culture and share yours. To ask for help and share experiences.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about France?

A: There are many blogs about France I like and read. I also actively follow the FB & Expat groups. If I have to name my top, ones these would be: Thelocal and GirlsTakeLyon.