Will French expats stay in London? South Kensington residents talk Macron and Brexit

South Kensington – often referred to as ‘little France’ – is host to a huge number of French expats and comes complete with boulangeries, lycées and an Institut Français.

The French consulate estimates that there are 300,000 French nationals living in London making it France’s sixth largest city.

The political upheavals of the past year coupled with the election of a centrist pro-business President who has vowed to lure bankers to Paris, has sent shockwaves through London’s Gallic community.

Traditionally les français have moved to London in order to avoid high French taxes and suffocating business conditions.

Hélène Charveriat, the delegate-general of the Union of French Citizens Abroad, told the Independent that since Hollande came to power the number of expatriates has been increasing steadily by 2% each year.

This could all be about to change with the possibility of visas, work permits and the quite likely impending de-regulation of the French business space.

South Kensington resident Medard Zalcberg, 18, said: “I think still a large population will stay here but maybe lots of people will think about going back to France because it will be cheaper and we don’t need visas or permission to live so going back to France may be a resolution for many people.”

Talking about Macron he continued: “Maybe he has new ways of handling France so people will go back to living there.

“He’s a lot like our previous presidents, there is going to be some changes but we still have the government of Monsieur Hollande but I think the fact that he is young will make some difference.”

At the same time, Zalcberg hadn’t noticed any changes yet.

“I’ve noticed lots of people coming in to the lycée, we extended the lycée we have now three so I think there are a lot of people still coming from France.

“I think people will still live as normal as we are living right now.”

Amine Maaroufi, 28, who had just moved to South Kensington, seemed to be even less phased.

“Brexit scared some people for sure, but I think we don’t have to panic we just have to wait and see what’ll happen.

“Actually I just came here two weeks ago, after Brexit I wasn’t afraid to do it, to leave France and come here.

“For me we don’t have to panic, it’s not clear yet.”


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