Although rents are on average 31% higher than in Paris, the French consulate in London estimates between 300,000 and 400,000 French citizens live in the English capital.
This represents a staggering growth of over 200% since 1991 and is comparable to the population of Nice, France’s fifth largest city.
Traditionally, the long-standing French community has been drawn to South Kensington, the home of the embassy, Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle and many French bookshops, patisseries and delis. But according the 2011 census data, the area with the largest French population is now Fulham in south west London, followed by Paddington, Battersea, Knightsbridge and Islington.
The French are also being attracted to the creative hub around East London, in areas such as Whitechapel and Islington.
Based on these areas, Rentonomy.com found French-born Londoners can expect to pay an average of £367 per week for a two-bed property, which is 18% above the London average.
For those with families, there are many great French schools in London. The original is the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington, which has been opening new outposts to meet demand. In 2011, the Collège Français Bilingue de Londres opened in Kentish Town and a third is planned in Brent, near Wembley, opening next year.
In Fulham, there is the primary school, L’Ecole des Petits, which also opened a school in Battersea in 2005. But it’s not just families, exchange students or au pairs that come over to London – more and more young professionals arrive eager to find new jobs, learn new skills and take on new challenges.
31-year-old Londoner Nicolas Peyrard, originally from Lyon, who now works for consulting firm Deloitte, says, “I moved to London nearly eight years ago thinking I would only stay for one or two years but here I am!
“Life in London has a much more international feel than Paris, which is still in my opinion very self-centred. The variety of communities living in London provides everything you could ever look for in terms of restaurants, and London is a true global scene for concerts, sport events and nightlife.”
Nicolas also loves the diversity of London, having rented in a number of London’s villages. He adds, “London, as a city, is more extensive than Paris, and each of the areas I have lived in for the past seven years (Maida Vale, Hampstead, Finchley Road), manages to provide a real village atmosphere, while you are never far from Oxford Circus by Tube.”
With the commute from London back to France taking less than two hours, it is clear to see why Nicolas and so many of his French compatriots continue to fall in love with everything London has to offer them.
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