11 Things to Know before Moving from Canada to France

Well known for its food, architecture, and Eiffel Tower, France has become a favourite destination for Canadians looking to move out of the country. Before you get to enjoy the benefits of living in France, there are several things you need to prepare! Here are some of the most important things to know before moving from Canada to France.

Moving to France

1. First Steps on Planning a Move to France

How can I move from Canada to France?

Are you a Canadian citizen who is craving that French lifestyle? As a Canadian, the only way you can move to France is if you are:

  • Employed and have a minimum 3-year contract in France.
  • A temporary worker with a contract between 3 months and a year.
  • A scientific researcher.
  • A student or an intern.
  • The spouse of a French citizen.
  • The spouse of a foreign national who is legally living in France.
  • Moving to France as a long-term visitor who has enough funds and a housing accommodation. 

Long stay visa in France (visa long séjour visiteur)

If your reason for moving to France is one of those listed above, you must apply for a long-stay visa before your arrival in France. The first step is to create an account on The official visa website for France. You can then apply for a long-stay visa through this application form. If you prefer to submit your visa application in person, you can visit the French embassy in Canada.

Residence permit in France (carte de séjour)

If you are thinking of extending your move to France then two months before your visa’s expiration, you have to visit your local préfecture (local authority) to apply for a renewable residence permit. You can find your local préfecture by region here. To obtain a residence permit you will have to give proof of sufficient funds, proof of health insurance, proof of work through an employment contract, and you may have to explain your family situation. It is likely that your residence permit will be extended for another year. In some cases, residence permits are extended for 3-years and even up to 10 years. 

France-Canada Youth Mobility Agreement

If you are a young person between the ages of 18 and 35 you can apply for a visa to temporarily work or study in France due to the France-Canada Youth Mobility Agreement. The first period is up to 24 months but can usually be extended to 36 months.

Citizenship in France

After legally living in France for 5 years, you can begin your application for a 10-year renewable French citizen card in your local préfecture. You can find your local préfecture by region here.You may have to present certain documents like a birth certificate and proof of marriage along with your ability to speak French. 

To find out more about the requirements of moving to France from Canada, go to the French government’s website for immigration. The website is only available in French, so if you want to translate it, right click your mouse and click ‘Translate to English’.

2. What should I look for in an International Moving Company?

You can easily move your things from Canada to France by plane or boat, but make sure the moving company you decide on is reliable. So when opting for an international moving company, here’s what you should look for:

  • Insurance is included (ask what’s included)
  • Rates are not extravagant (compare with other companies)
  • They have many Google reviews that are over 4 stars.
  • Customer service and transparency is their priority.

Our pick of the Best International Moving Companies in Canada

Read our complete reviews and request free quotes to make an informed decision. 

Best International Moving Companies in Canada

3. Car shipping to France

Unless they have significant emotional attachment to their car, most Canadians choose to leave their cars behind when moving to France due to the elevated shipping and import fees and the long vehicle inspection process. If you must absolutely ship your car to France, here are the steps to follow:

  • Get various quotes from the best car shipping companies. A trusted car shipping company will have insurance, good reviews, and will make customer service their priority.
  • Choose the port of departure.
  • Choose the port destination.
  • Prepare the car by cleaning it and emptying the tank to ⅛ full or you may have to pay a fee upon arrival.

*Ask your chosen car shipping company for additional requirements.

4. First Steps upon Arrival in France

Register with the French authorities

Within three months of your arrival in France, you must register with the French authorities. If you have a long-stay visa, register with the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII). During this procedure, you will be asked to do an interview and conduct a medical test. Don’t wait till the last minute because it may take some time! 

Healthcare in France

France’s healthcare system is one of the top healthcare systems in the world. If you are an official legal resident of France and have lived in the country for at least 3 months, and plan to stay in France for the next 183 days, you can apply for the Protection Maladie Universelle (PUMA). Applications are known to take a long time, so apply as soon as you are eligible.  

Get a French driver’s licence

If you are moving to France from Canada and are over 18 you can drive in France with your Canadian driver’s licence for up to one year. If your Canadian driver’s licence is not in French, it must hold a copy of an official translation. As a Canadian, you won’t have to pass a driving test after a year, but you still have to visit your local Préfecture de Police or Mairie to exchange your Canadian driver’s licence for a French one. From then on your driver’s licence will only have to be renewed every 15 years. 

Opening a bank account in France

If you are a Canadian looking to stay in France long-term, opening a bank account is a great way to keep your money safe and even start some investments. To open a bank account you will need, your passport, proof of address, and your visa. France has over 300 banks of which the most popular ones are Banque Populaire, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel, and La Banque Postale. 

5. Public Transportation in France

Taking the train in France

If you are travelling from a city to another in France, you can take the SNCF train that has a lot of comfy seats and many amenities. You can buy tickets for the SNCF train on their website or at the station directly. Make sure to always have your ticket on hand as there are many inspectors that will verify your ticket’s eligibility.

Taking the metro in France (Paris)

If you’re moving to Paris from Canada, then the easiest way to get around is by metro. To find a metro station look for a sign carrying the big letter ‘’M’’. You can buy a metro ticket or monthly pass at guichets (ticket offices), cafés-tabacs, newsagents, and automatic ticket machines. 

Taking the bus in France

Taking the bus in France is a quick and cost effective way to get around. You can buy a bus ticket or monthly bus pass at guichets (ticket offices), cafés-tabacs, newsagents, and automatic ticket machines. You can also buy a single ticket directly on the bus. Always make sure to validate your ticket at the front of the bus or you may be fined. Note that you can use metro tickets on the bus too!

6. Best Places to Live in France from Canada

Moving to France from Canada, will be the experience of a lifetime, especially with the delicious food and beautiful scenery! Here are some of the best places to live in France if you’re coming from Canada. 

  1. Toulouse: Known as the pink city due to its colorful architecture, Toulouse is a town filled with art, history, and culture. 
  2. Bordeaux: Many Canadians live in Bordeaux for its amazing food, wine, and high quality of life. 
  3. Rennes: Known as the best city in France for foreigners, Rennes is known for its culture, art, food, and overall great quality of life. 

7. Housing and Renting in France

How to find a house or apartment in France

Finding a house or apartment to live in France is easy! We highly recommend you know what you’re looking for before you arrive in France so that upon your arrival, you can quickly get settled in. Leboncoin, Seloger, and Facebook Marketplace are all websites that can help you find a house or apartment in France

8. Utilities in France

The most popular electricity providers in France are EDF, Alterna, Cdiscount Energie, Total Direct Energie, and Engie. You won’t be able to choose your own electricity provider, the town you live in will be choosing for you. If you live in an apartment, the electricity will most likely be included in the rent cost. Gas is also a good option in France, but it is less eco-friendly and since the country encourages green practices, they recommend it a lot less. To set up water in France you have to create an account with the local water provider. To find out who the local provider is in your area contact your local Mairie. If you live in an apartment building, you don’t have to create your own account as the landlord already has one. Talk to your landlord to know more about how water works in your building.

Cell phone and Internet in France

Cell phone plans in France work differently than in Canada. In France cell phone minutes and data are provided through Sim cards. Make sure your Canadian phone is unlocked prior to arriving in France so you can simply insert a French Sim card and immediately start using your phone from there. Sim card features include data, calls, and texting. 8GB of data with unlimited calls and texting, will cost you around $45 CAD per month. The main French cell phone providers are Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Free Mobile.  

The Internet in France in terms of pricing is like Canada, and the quality is considerably good. You should expect to pay $50-$60 CAD a month for the internet in France along with an additional installation and equipment fee. The main internet providers in France are Bouygues Telecom, Free, Orange, and SFR.

9. The Essential Insurance Coverage in France

Health Insurance in France

Prior to your arrival in France you must already have health insurance. If you do not meet the requirements for access to France’s Protection de la Maladie Universelle system after 3 months of residency in France, then you must purchase private health insurance. The top private health insurance providers in France are Assurances Sans Frontières, Votre Assureur Privé, and Mutuelle Santé

Home Insurance in France

Buying a home or apartment in France is a great investment and a perfect way to feel at home! The best home insurance companies in France include Covéa, Groupama, Crédit agricole Assurances, and Axa.

Car Insurance in France

Car insurance in France is mandatory. The minimum car insurance coverage in France you can get is third party liability. In France, Car insurance covers the vehicle, unlike Canada where it covers the driver, so others can use your vehicle and also be covered. The best car insurance companies in France are Allianz, Axa, Clements, and Credit Mutuel. 

Life Insurance in France

While life insurance in France is not mandatory, it is a must to ensure your financials are taken care of in case of any unexpected events. The best life insurance companies in France are Euro Swisslife, Netissima, Suravenir Opportunités, and Euro Allocation Long Terme. 

10. Cost of living in France

The average cost of living in France is just under $2900 CAD per month in a mid sized city. The cost of each individual expense is listed below.  

Cost of living for a couple in a mid-sized city such as Toulouse 

Expense

CAD $

Rent for one- or two-bedroom apartment 

$1200

Utilities (gas, water, electricity, phone, internet)

$250

Groceries

$500

Entertainment (eating out & other)

$350

Insurance and Healthcare

$250

Other (transportation, material goods)

$300

11. Tips for Buying Groceries in France

There are a number of international chains such as Carrefour, Auchan, Leclerc, and SuperU where you can easily get your groceries in France. There are also local stores and markets where you can get fresh produce and other goods. Be mindful of the opening and closing times and keep an eye on the prices because they can vary from a store to another. Note that there is a strict no plastic policy so bring your own bags when shopping. Don’t expect to find any medicine or tobacco-based products in the grocery stores. 

What to Expect from your New Life in France?

Living in France has its many perks: the beautiful architecture, the culture, and the delicious food. While France is one of the most productive countries in the world, they have earned the reputation for being laid back. Expect to spend a fair amount of time in restaurants with your new friends and make sure to learn French prior to your arrival so you can easily meet new people! Want to know more about moving from Canada to Europe? Check out our article on the Things to Know before Moving from Canada to Europe. 

Share this article on social media

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Related questions from the community

July 10, 2020

Have a question about your move? Ask our community.

Relevant for your move

Need help moving?

Check out MovingWaldo’s free moving platform and find everything your need for your move. No sign up required!

You're moving.

We got you.

Promo code

Enter your promo code and update your cart.

Get our printable change of address checklist directly in your inbox