More French people live in London than in Nantes

Nantes sign panel on entry to CityThis surprised me when I first heard it some months ago, so I thought I would do a little research of my own to validate the claims. Nantes is the regional capital of the Pays de la Loire region of France, has a population of just over 280,000 (many of whom will not be French, as it is a big University City and also popular with the British) and ranks as the 6th largest French city by population.

According to a BBC World Service report from a few years ago the number of French people living in London stood at over 300,000. I think that is quite staggering and would make London the “6th biggest French city” in terms of the number of French living there.

List of top 10 french cities by population

Courtesy of Wikipedia

I wonder which country gets the better deal here – or whether it matters. Most of the French living in London are likely to be young, salary-earning, tax-paying professionals, and so not a big drain on UK social care resources. I would imagine that a good many of the Brits living in and around Nantes will be a little older and so perhaps posing more of a strain on the French health system, but they would generally draw a UK pension and then spend the money in France. they might also operate a gite or other accommodation and so bring money into the area that way.

Any thoughts?

Are you a French person living in London or an English person living in Nantes?

Let us know your story – Why do you live where you do? What do you do? What do you miss about your home country? Do you plan to return home?

Please leave your comments below.


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  1. Lynn Tulip September 28, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    Martin, Nantes is one of my most favourite French cities. At a tender age I left Brighton, Sussex and settled in Nantes for a couple of years. I worked in the Port Office [would you believe] as a bi-lingual secretary and then as an English Language teacher.

    I have such fond memories of Nantes in the 1970s. A totally different city to how it is now. The transport links were non-existent, and the student population were very active.

    When I was applying for jobs I was surprised that I couldn’t get a service job. I thought it would be simple to work in a bar or a shop, even as a chamber maid. But no, at the time the French were rather possessive of their jobs and it was pure chance that I managed to find an office based job which frankly I wasn’t really up to but with many a faux-pas, I kept for a few months.

    I loved it.

    I managed to hook up with a wonderful French girl, whose family took me into their hearts and home and we are still life long friends. She introduced me to so many French customs and ensured that I could cook, work and live as a true French person. Plus she translated and corrected my work in the office as necessary.

    Sadly I had to leave and return to the UK via a short stay in Marseille, but I have never lost my love of France; and my French friends.

  2. Xavax December 21, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    The idea there are between 300 to 400.000 French people living in London is utterly wrong. Not a single serious study confirms this.

    Well actually, this is the exact opposite. According to the latest census released by the ONS, there were exactly 66.000 French people living in Greater London in 2011. Very far from what proud BBC announced: 6 times less! And i don’t see how one can disagree with the census since this is hard fact.

    Now, if you compare this figure to the list of the main cities in France, London would not even reach the top100 (also, for info, the city of Nantes with its suburb has over 800.000 inhabitants)

    All in all, that was a nice piece of misinformation from the Beeb.


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