French expatriate numbers increase as election looms

Published:  6 Feb at 6 PM
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As the French general election draws near, more and more French nationals are voting with their feet and leaving for foreign climes.

Unlike the British, the French are not so well known for emigrating, with even those who do traditionally choosing known quantities in Europe where French is spoken. However, over the last several years, not only have the numbers of French émigrés increased, but more adventurous decisions as regards countries are occasionally being made.

Totals of French nationals living overseas and registered with their local consulates or embassies are calculated at around 1.7 million, but the real number is estimated at around 2.5 million, almost as many as there are Brits overseas. The 800,000 or so missing from Ministry of Foreign Affairs statistics are thought to include long-stayers and those who consider their move to be permanent.

Popular francophone countries include Switzerland, the first choice for many, with Canada’s Quebec province attracting increasing numbers due to its dual use of the English and French languages. Switzerland is now home to 175,000 French citizens, with Canada’s total number of expats now at 92,000.

French-speaking Morocco has 51,000 emigres calling it home, and the USA has its share of French expats, although the recent change in presidency might affect preferences in the future and even cause a rethink for some of the 142,000 already in residence. Next door neighbour Britain is still attracting interest, with some 128,000 scattered mostly in London, although Brexit might result in pressure on the Channel Tunnel and cross-channel ferries from Dover in a couple of years’ time.

Germany is home to 114,000 French nationals, and Belgium has been a practical solution for the 121,000 French expats not wanting to be out of easy reach of their home country. In general, there’s been a five per cent rise in arrivals from France in all the above countries and, should National Front leader Marine Le Pen become France’s next PM, an accelerated rush to leave might be the result.

Source: The Local
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