How to be friends with your French neighbours



You have just arrived in France with your family and you have to face a new language, new environment, new culture, and new habits… Your social life is totally shaken and you have to create a new one. Don’t worry,here you will find everything to help you be friends with French neighbours.

In this situation, that’s easier to fall into the trap and make only expat friends.
However, it’s essential to make local French buddies if you really want to integrate into French life. And to live “à la française”.

I hear you saying “But, how to meet them? How can I introduce myself to them?”

Don’t worry; we are here to help you!



Here are some tips for making pals – or “potes” as they are known in France.


STEP 1: “Knock to your neighbour’s door”


I know, it sounds quite obvious. But that’s the first step if you want to be introduced to them!
Don’t be shy, take a deep breath and let’s meet them.


STEP 2: “Introduce yourself”


 be friends with French neighbours


For example : Hello my name is Emily, I am your new neighbor coming right from England with my husband and my son of 5 years old. I am very pleased to meet you. What is your name ?

In french, you can say : Bonjour, je m’appelle Emilie, je suis votre nouvelle voisine. Je viens de m’installer à Paris, je viens d’Angleterre avec mon mari et notre fils. Je suis heureuse de vous rencontrer, quel est votre nom ?

Although you may think it is too formal or too scary to go and introduce yourself to your neighbours, it is quite normal in France to do this.

If you are moving in a large city in France, or right in the centre of a busy small city, then it will not be expected as there are far more people coming and going. But if you move to the suburbs or a town or a village, your lack of introduction will be seen as a bit of a snub.

Also, French people are far more comfortable with the offer of a morning coffee or aperos as the first meeting with a new neighbour.

How to integrate in a new country?


What you need to know when you invite a French at your home


First of all, you are free to invite the parents only or the parents and their children: as you like.


 be friends with French neighbours



« L’apéro »:

Apéros are popular in France – a small alcoholic or soft drink and a few nibbles at around 6pm is the norm. Your guests will not expect to stay for supper and they may only be at your home for up to an hour, so this is the perfect way to show that you are keen to be making new friends, without the stress of a full dinner party.


Even though the « apéro » is planned at 6pm, French people will not arrive on time and certainly not in advance. According to the French culture, being in advance or literally “on time” is impolite. ( the idea is to let time to the host ).


Bring something:


The french will, for sure, ask to you “qu’est ce qu’on amène ?” or “doit-on apporter quelque chose?” (=should we bring something?).

Anyway, answering “nothing” is not impolite. Usually, the French bring something. That’s the culture.

The answer is up to you!

However, according to the context, your answer should be :
“Apéro” : nothing
“Dinner” : nothing, drinks or dessert
“After-school snack” : nothing or some snacks


 be friends with French neighbours


A large chunk of conversation between French people is dedicated to current affairs, so if you don’t know your French left-wing politicians from right-wing ones then don’t even think about going to a classic “French soirée”

Then it’s a good idea to chat to shop keepers, to fellow parents if you have children at school and to people you might encounter in a café or bar. But we think the best people to practice chatting with are right next door…

Right, hold on. I can see you going now and asking “Great, but how could we start a conversation with a local French”?


Here are some examples of conversation subjects


The weather

Most French people enjoy having a good moan or a happy conversation about what the weather is doing. The chances are even if your French is basic you still know how to say simple weather phrases in French. Here are a few examples to get you started:

Il fait beau/il y a du soleil = It’s nice/sunny

C’est la canicule = It’s a heatwave

Ça caille! = It’s freezing! (this is slang and very common)


 be friends with French neighbours

Another great talking point is your families. Ask your neighbour questions and tell them any news about your family. Families are very important to the French who like to visit each other often and enjoy long meals catching up. Possible questions you can ask your neighbour:

Avez-vous des enfants/des petits enfants? = Do you have any children/grandchildren?

Avez-vous des frères et soeurs? = Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Ils habitent où? = Where do they live?

Vous les voyez souvent? = How often do you see them?



Your French neighbours will love being asked for their inside knowledge on anything French. Asking people for their advice and opinion on something they know about is always a great way to get them talking. Try some of these questions :

Quel est votre plat français préféré et pouvez-vous me passer une recette? = What’s your favourite French dish and can I borrow a recipe?

Quel est le meilleur fromage local? = What’s the best local cheese?

Pouvez-vous recommander des sites touristiques à visiter à Paris? = Please can you recommend places to visit in Paris?

Quand dois-je dire «tu» et quand dois-je dire «vous»? = When should I say “tu” and when should I say “vous”?


Subjects to avoid: religion, money and politics



These are the subjects you should avoid, especially during your first conversations, in order not to embarass each other ( example : when you have very different politic opinions ).



However, you don’t have to worry, French people are usually very nice and they love meeting new people ! Just act natural and do the first step (if they don’t), they will welcome you with their arms wide open.


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