Things Americans miss the most after moving to France

The Louvre in Paris

If you have ever considered leaving your comfort zone, you know it’s a difficult thing to do, but can nevertheless be very beneficial for your personal growth. There are few greater challenges than leaving your home and going into the unknown by moving to another country. While it is a challenge, it can also be a great adventure, so don’t fear, but rather embrace it. Remember that wherever you are on this planet there will always be things you miss about your hometown. There are definitely some things that Americans miss the most after moving to France, and we will explore them all below.

Things Americans miss the most after moving abroad

Each country has its unique specialties. France has to offer more than most: beautiful scenery, French pastries, high-quality wines of origin, a variety of cheeses, and some of the world’s most interesting architecture. Magical villages and magnificent nature that you can visit and explore. Be that as it may, even after settling down in this beautiful country, many Americans begin to feel as though something is missing. Each person is different and has their own preferences, but here is a list of the most common things Americans miss after moving to France.


Moving from America to a new country is very exciting, but soon enough, you will find out that some of the things you took for granted are not the same in France. You can forget about stores you can visit at any hour during the day or night, restaurants that work 24-hours, shops open on holidays, mail delivered on weekends and such services.


Store operating hours can be very frustrating for newcomers and take some getting used to. Stores, pharmacies and post offices don’t work on Sundays and most local shops are closed during lunchtime for an hour or two every day. In common tourist destinations, stores are modifying their working hours to accommodate tourist’s needs.


If you are accustomed to doing your shopping at large one-stop shops such as Target or Wal-Mart, you might be surprised that mega markets of this kind are not too common in France.



Even with the great variety of dishes that are available in France, and the exquisite French cuisine, you may find yourself craving some American style food. Certain products that are commonplace in the United States, such as peanut butter, are hard to come by in France. This means you might find yourself without peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter ice cream, Reese’s cups, peanut butter brownies, and cheesecakes.


Seeing as some of these products are so hard to find, their prices can be sky-high. Make sure that you take a look at a comparison of the costs of living before your move. This way, you will know what to expect and can avoid unwanted surprises.


Europeans tend to use less ice than their counterparts across the pond. It seems that Americans are used to using a lot of ice by French standards. When you order drinks that are served with ice, you will get less than you are used to or like in your drinks. Finding large bags of ice in stores or gas stations is also not commonplace in France.


Moreover, some meals that you might be used to don’t taste quite the same. So, try not to expect a certain taste before eating your food.


There are some differences in the way people drive in France in comparison to America. For starters, most vehicles in France have a manual transmission, while America is famous for the fact that most vehicles have an automatic transmission. This takes some getting used to.


Furthermore, fuel prices are higher and the streets are narrower. Roundabouts are everywhere which can be a bit confusing at first. In the States, you can turn right at a red light if it is safe to do so. In France, this is not the case and is in fact illegal, so you need to be careful.


Even the process of obtaining a driver’s license is somewhat different and more expensive. If you didn’t get your permit in the States, you should know that getting it in France might be somewhat more difficult.

If you plan on shipping your car to France after you are settled and ready, contact an experienced international moving company such as Transparent International NYC to help you with the logistics of the move.

Metric system

In Europe, the metric system is prevalent, and it will probably take a bit of time to get used to kilograms, kilometers, degrees Celsius and such. In France, they use a different format to write dates as well, so be careful when you fill out documents. You should write the date in the following format: Day/Month/Year. Also, instead of the decimal point, they use a comma, and the 24-hour clock is dominant. 


These are just some of the things that you will have to get used to and will likely miss about America.


From applying for a visa to signing up for simple services there is a certain amount of paperwork to be done before moving to France. Application processes function slowly in France and demand a lot of time, patience, and paperwork. Whatever it is you need to do, if it requires paperwork, we suggest that you find out what the necessary documents are online. Only once you have gathered all the necessary documentation should you physically go and apply for any permits, licenses, or similar documents.

Communication and friendships

Meeting new people in France is no easy task and you might need some guidance when moving abroad in that aspect as well. There are cultural and language differences that a person needs to overcome to be able to lead a normal and happy life in France. For example, you might find that the people in France are not as friendly as you are used to in America, but this is a result of cultural differences.

Moving to France without learning French can land you in some frustrating situations. You will soon find out that learning the language should have been more of a priority for you. Trying to communicate with someone that doesn’t know English or doesn’t have the patience to listen to you trying to speak broken French can be very annoying. These situations are more common than you might think and could make you feel nostalgic about the States.

While these are some things Americans miss the most after moving to France, you should consider the trade-off and everything you will receive and experience in return. The adventure of living somewhere different, somewhere new, is a very enriching one. Learning about different cultures and immersing yourself in one will help you grow as a person and broaden your horizons.


Photos used: