In recent years, many French citizens have been tempted to move to New York. A growing trend in the Big Apple since before the 2000s, which as the embodiment of the American dream has long attracted the French.
NYC is definitely one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Tourists can relate it is almost impossible to walk around Manhattan without hearing the language of Molière on every street corner. But the “French invasion” dates back to a long time ago.
In order to understand that passion for the USA, one needs to go back to the beginning of the 17th century when French speaking communities started developing along a huge circular arc, from Louisiana to Canada and the Atlantic Coast. A couple of key dates such as the Louisiana purchase in 1803- when Napoleon sold Louisiana to America- offer an explanation to the presence in America of a cosmopolitan population, almost from the very beginning on. History has shaped what is nowadays referred to as “the three French speaking pockets in America” in Acadia, Quebec and Louisiana.
A rumour heard throughout Europe
New York symbolizes diversity. It has always been seen as an extravagant metropolis, shaped through its interactions with the outside world. French minorities have always contributed to its makeup. Traces of the French presence can be found as far back as 1523 when the explorer, Giovanni de Verrazano sailing under the orders of Francis I of France, discovered the Hudson river and Manhattan. He initially called New York « the Land of Angoulême ». In the 17th century, the presence of many French immigrants gave it the nickname of ‘Little France’.
The French presence in New York grew further following World War II and paradoxically, conflict gave French culture greater visibility. In 1947 the Cold War saw a cultural policy integrated within a larger effort to provide information to Americans and acquaint them with France’s true nature and thus counteract more pernicious influences. The North Atlantic Treaty and US support in Indochina further strengthened the relationship. Today the numbers speak for themselves, the number of French visitors to the New York continues to increase. On 1 July 2017 the French consulate knew of 80 000 French citizens settled in the city. Studying French in NYC.
Studying French in NYC
As the French speaking community keeps growing in NYC so do bilingual academiccurriculums. The Lycée Français in NYC counts more and more students. Founded in 1935,the school sticks to the French and American curriculum. Each year more than 200 newstudents, from pre-K to Senior year are signed up at the Lycée Français. Pascale Richard, thecultural manager of the Lycée Français, talks numbers. The Lycée Français’s studentsrepresent as many as 68 different nationalities: 311 French, 296 Americans, 458 Franco- Americans. The other students mostly come from Italy, Canada, England, Germany and Belgium”.
In order to provide their children with a complete educational curriculum (covering elementary, middle and high school), parents have to pay an average annual tuition of 36.500 $ per child, which does not include school trips, lunch neither the learning books. A 3.000 $deposit is also required for the first registry, and parents are required to pay another 200$ perchild for any new registry. However, the Lycée offers financial aid to the families which fulfill the requirements. Besides the academics provided by the school, students can also takeadvantage of the Centre Culturel attached to the Lycée Français. The Centre Culturel offers anintensive program about France’s culture and other French speaking countries’. Some organized events are open to the public since they aim at stimulating an exchange between France and the USA.
Besides educational programs, here is a non- exhaustive list of institutions thriving to promoteFrench culture and possibly lend some help to the expats: le Consulat Général de France, le FI :AF (French Institute of Alliance Française), l’Ambassade de France, l’Alliance française,la Chambre de Commerce Franco-Américaine, etc.
The French truly feel at home in NYC. Fanny Pradier is in charge of organizing events at the Consulat Général de France: “When I arrived in NYC I was appalled French culture can be seen on every street corner and one can truly feel the French know how in the air. France has a huge place in NYC”. So even if The French remain a minority within the New York population, they have managed to strengthen and legitimize their presence in the United States, beyond history. Today, more and more French people want to try the American adventure.
NYC SEDUCED THEM
They felt the draught and chose to pack their suitcases! In a few words, they talk about their full immersion in NYC.
EMMANUEL SAINT MARTIN, Journalist and CEO of French Morning, Living in NYC for the last 14 years : “Everything seems more achievable in NYC than anywhere else”
The French expat moved to NYC to follow his wife while she took part in the UNO French Mission. He started off as a NYC press correspondent for French media. Only much later did he think of developing French Morning (an information site geared towards the French speaking expats in NYC) in order to offer insider’s tips about navigating the city as he felt there was a true lack of it (i. e no magazines). He founded French Morning in 2007 along his other professional activities. French Morning remained small scale during the first years before Emmanuel started viewing it as true business, and expanding it as such. As the company gradually started hiring more and more people, it developed exponentially and is now active in Washington, Austin, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and Montreal.
He fell in love with NYC because … : He loves NYC’s diversity and incredible energy. Everything seems more achievable here than anywhere else.
Camille Stasiak, 29, living in NYC for the last 30 months : “This city is pure energy“
Camille’s story: This young French professional transferred to NYC for professional reasons. Her “love story” with NYC began 8 years ago with the extremely positive outcome of her very first internship. She got introduced into the fashion world (She is now working for Dior Couture). “I was working in the Paris offices and I got transferred to NYC 8 months ago. After a somewhat rough adjusting period in such a big city, I am now truly embracing this new life experience.
She fell in love with NYC because … : “I just love the fact that, here in NYC, I can start over; and I enjoy meeting new people and making new friends (…) One can’t resist that incredible surge of energy. Since NYC is commonly the ‘first step” for further life experiences people get transcended by its unique appeal and enjoy every second of their time here. Nothing seems out of reach”.
Valérie-Anne Demulier, Founder of SHE for S.H.E, 31, living in NYC for the last 3 years. : “The lively side of the city makes me feel so alive and gives me an incredible energy”
Valérie-Anne’s story: She was working at a legal firm in Luxembourg when her partner got offered a professional opportunity in NYC. V-A found a job relatively quickly in the Big Apple and was thus able to follow him. When she arrived in NYC she was set on making new friendships and joined a blog for expats, and her social network gradually grew. Since she had always enjoyed organizing social events, she set up drinks and dinners. Her purpose was to share all the information and conversations she came along, but in a more formal and defined format. In January of 2016 she founded the SHE for S.H.E. network which is geared towards French speaking women. After organizing the first event in her own living-room her business took off. After resigning from her job in November of 2017 she dedicated herself full time to SHE for S.H.E.
She fell in love with NYC because…. : from the very beginning she got raptured by its rhythm. The lively side of the city makes her feel alive and gives her an incredible energy. It is that very unique thriving energy which spiked her interest in never explored before fields and eventually led to the creation of her company.
Fanny Pradier, 31, works at The French Consulate in NYC, living for the last 4 years in NYC : “Love, love, love the open-mindedness here”.
Fanny’s story: This young Parisian jumped right into her NYC adventure! This was her very first experience abroad and she was set on improving her English. She had always been fascinated from a very young age on by the USA; and had no second thoughts about making the leap. As soon as she arrived in NYC she strove to learn as much as possible about the city, as well as the recruitment process. She did a lot of workshops in order to understand networking in the Big Apple and strongly set her mind on making a place for herself in the city. She had her share of odd jobs and worked in two French companies before eventually taking office at the French Consulate in NYC.
She fell in love with NYC because… : She so appreciates the open-mindedness in NYC, everyone is absolutely free to be whoever they want to be. Energy is just boosting 24/7. She always has to be on the move, she goes to bed in the middle of the night and wakes up at the crack of dawn. She feels in total synchrony with the surrounding pace. She is also delighted to still be in touch with France, even far away from home she does not feel homesick thanks to the very rich French cultural life in NYC.
Benoît Buridant,CEO and Founder of French Founders, Living in NYC for the last 7 years : “Meeting such different individuals on a daily basis makes every day unique”.
Benoît’s story:After graduating from Law School, this Frenchman from Toulon started his American adventure in Miami where he set up a content company before opening a second branch in NYC. Five years later, in 2014, he quit his job to found his own business “French Founders” which is a global business club for French speaking leaders and CEO’s. It strives to help business deals amongst a community of CEO’s, startups, top CEO’s and entrepreneurs. The main purpose was to take advantage of an already existing community in order to facilitae its business growth. Today the company counts 3000 employees and 10 offices worldwide.
He fell in love with NYC because… : NYC represents the top in the business world : “Meeting such different individuals on a daily basis makes every day unique”, says Benoit. He also tremendously enjoys the NYC unique pace : “The city is also strategically located on the East Coast, halfway between Europe and the rest of the USA, which makes it an easy hub for traveling”.