When you think of moving to France, the first city in mind is probably Paris. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s the country’s capital, it’s one of the most well-known cities in the world, and the media is saturated with the luxurious feel of Paris. But Paris, despite being home to hundreds of French natives, is also a home for tourists. That means if you live in Paris, you will be paying a lot more for food, accommodations, and transportation due to the high influx of visitors every day. Instead, look a little beyond Paris and you will be greeted by a humble yet ample city known as Bordeaux.
Bordeaux lies in the southwest region of France. No matter where you depart from within the United States, you’ll have to take a connecting flight (or a 2-hour train ride) to arrive there. This is a minor inconvenience to what awaits you. It has deep historical and cultural roots and allows you to experience France in a more native way. It’s notorious for its wine and wine-related activities and boasts many attractions that natives enjoy on a day-to-day basis. And if you’re not sure if Bordeaux is meant for an American expat, these are some of the top things about living in Bordeaux that will instantly change your mind.
1. The English- Speaking Locals
You’ll be surprised to find that English is not an uncommon language in Bordeaux. It’s as common as Spanish in America, the only difference is that most natives can actually speak and understand English. French students have the option to learn the English language as soon as they enter middle school which is consistently taught until they graduate high school. Although the language will be a bit rusty amongst the older generations, learning English is a growing trend and will soon catch up to a multitude of generations.
2. The Lower Cost of Living
Your cost of living will vary depending on your expenses as it does with anywhere that you choose to reside. Factors such as housing, transportation, and lifestyle will greatly factor in how much your monthly expenses are. However, Bordeaux is a university city and with many students and study abroad students coming from all around the world, rentals will be easy to find as Bordeaux is very accommodating to renters.
3. The Healthy Lifestyle
France takes organic, or as they call it, “bioloqique” to the next level. You’ll notice a lot of their produce is smaller in size and objectively not as perfect compared to American produce. So don’t be surprised when a banana is the size of your hand or when the carrots aren’t all straight and narrow. And for those of you who love farmer’s markets, you will enjoy doing your weekly grocery shopping a Marché des Capucins. It’s a lively market with fresh meat, poultry, and so much more! If you’re not looking to buy any groceries, enjoy a cup of espresso and a canalé at one of the cafes within the market.
4. The Top-Notch Transportation
Forget everything you know about public transportation in America because you won’t think twice about ditching your car in Bordeaux. The TBM (Transports Bordeaux Métropole) is a newly installed public transportation system that was installed in 2003. It’s fast, clean, and efficient for travel all throughout Bordeaux. You have to load up your transportation card in person at one of their offices. You can choose to load up your card with a daily pass, but once you start living there you will likely load it up with the weekly option. It’s possible to load your transportation card with as many weekly passes as you’d like so that you don’t have to keep going back every week.
5. The Bordeaux Highlights
The best part of living in Bordeaux is all of its outdoor amenities. Bordeaux is the best of both worlds when it comes to having a city life with a suburban feel. The heart of Bordeaux boasts many attractions such as the Monument Aux Girondis, the Bordeaux Cathedral, and even the neighborhood surrounding the Carousel Palace 1900. These lovely attractions are just a few places that you will be able to appreciate during your commute to work or you might even use them as a meetup spot before going out for dinner. Further from the main attractions of the city, you will be pleasantly surprised by how calm and peaceful your surroundings can be. Neighborhoods are quiet and safe enough for a quick stroll or a ride on your bike without all the hustle and bustle of the city. To get the best of both worlds, you will enjoy the Promenade by the Garonne to enjoy a relaxing time next to a scenic river, and when you want to enjoy a fast-paced environment head on over to Rue St. Catherine.
Promenade by the Garonne
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Garonne is French for “river” and promenade means a leisurely walk in a public place. And so the term Promenade by the Garonne is rightly so because it’s one of the most lively, yet leisure places in Bordeaux. You can easily take a tram to the river or if the weather is fair, you probably won’t mind the walk there. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but there’s also quite a lot you can do by the Garonne. With finely paved roads, you can enjoy the view on a bike or stroll down to one of many shops and restaurants facing the river. You can find a Starbucks for whenever you want a taste of home, or enjoy drinks at Mikala Kafé while you enjoy the sunset across the river. The Place de la Bourse, a beautiful example of French architecture will soon become a regular sight to see during your regular visits to the Garonne.
Rue St. Catherine
When the weather is nice and you don’t want to shop inside the Mériadeck, you will be grateful for the Rue St. Catherine. It’s an outdoor shopping center that has a 1.2 km (approximately .75 miles) paved walkway. Safe for strollers and any type of footwear that you choose for the day. The strip consists of high-end stores as well as affordable shops that cater to French fashion along with comfortable pieces that are accustomed to American styles. And like most malls and shopping centers, you’ll be happy to find many places to eat such as the Burgerbar, or for healthier options you can go to Eat Salad. At night, the street is lit with lamps so that you can enjoy a nighttime stroll along this street and pick up a churro or some late-night bite of ice cream.
Overall, moving to Bordeaux will open your eyes to how easy it can be to live in France. Transportation is a breeze and you won’t have to worry about buying a car and paying high insurance rates as you do in the states. With healthier options and a more active lifestyle, you will enjoy every step of the day and find the energy to explore every nook and cranny of this historic city. As an American expat, you will get accustomed very quickly as the French natives openly share their culture with you. Bordeaux awaits you with open arms and you will not be disappointed.