The best French apps that you need as an expat living in France. Who doesn’t use a smartphone nowadays to make their life easier? Even though many apps are internationally used, there are some specific apps that could help you in your expat life and your life in France.
Most of the apps I’ll recommend here are actually apps I have on my phone and that I use regularly.
Table of Contents
As someone that travels a lot but has no sense of orientation, transportation apps are just essential to me. If you are like me or if you are just new to France, getting some orientation assistance on transport option can be a life-saver.
Depending on where you live in France, you can download your French city public transport app. So if you are living in Paris it would be RATP or in Lyon TCL, RTM for Marseille, TaM for Montpellier and so on. Just type “application transport en commun + your French city” on your browser to find out the one for you.
My favourite French app for transport is CityMapper. With this app, you can easily switch from one city to another. Plus the best part is that it will give you all the types of transport options:
- public transport (bus, metro, tramway)
- cycling (with your own bike)
- using rental bikes
As an alternative you can also use the Transit application, a competitor of CityMapper, which displays the location of buses in real-time, and shares data between users of the service in a practical way.
In addition, most big French cities also have a local bike rental system. In some cities, you will be able to unlock your bike directly from the app, the same way it would work with the electric scooters apps such as Lime.
Now for the train, I prefer to use the Trainline app rather than SNCF Connect which I don’t find so user friendly…You’ll be able to book your train ticket on the Trainline app without any ads or offers as this is the case on the SNCF Connect app.
Two other major apps in terms of transport is the GPS called Waze that besides giving you the route, will also tell you instantly about traffic, construction, police, crashes…
Also, I couldn’t but mention BlaBlaCar, the best French app made in France for carsharing. Whether you are the driver or the passenger, this app will give you a great option to go anywhere in France or neighbouring countries.
And finally in the transport section, the C’est la grève application. An app that can be quite useful in France. It provides information on current and upcoming strikes in France, such as start and end dates, details of the services and companies affected by the strike, the geographical area where the strike is taking place and a full list of disruptions.
Users can search for information by region. This is a very useful service to make things a little clearer.
Of course, your bank app to manage your account from your phone. I’m not going to list all the banks here, but if you want to open a French bank account and are looking for a list and how to do it, this post will help you.
As a serial expat, I’m a frequent user of two specific finance app.
XE to double-check the Fx rate. I like to be able to see the graph of the currency evolution.
And of course, Wise to make monthly international transfers. This is the cheaper option I’ve found to transfer money internationally. This doesn’t apply for large amounts (meaning over 10,000 euros per year), as this would require tax declarations.
Now in my everyday life, I frequently use Tricount. This app allows you to organise your expenses among friends, for example, during a group trip or in a flatshare. The application gathers all the expenses of the group and calculates what each person has to pay.
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I love everything eco-friendly. And these 3 apps will help you to make your life even more eco-friendly in an easy way.
Yuka (made in France) allows users to scan food and cosmetic products with their smartphone, via the barcode. The free application allows users to know the quality of the products they scan, thanks to a score from 1 to 100. The higher the score is the less impact on the environment and your health it will have.
Too good to go will help you fight against food wasting and save money at the same time. The app lets customers rescue unsold food from shops and restaurants to save it from going to waste.
And finally the famous Vinted app. I have almost stopped buying new clothes a few years ago and Vinted is a great way to buy second-hand clothing. The quantity of options is just incredible since they are present all over Europe. You can send the cloth back if it doesn’t suit you without any extra charge.
Travel & Food
As far as I know, these apps are very international, so nothing new here. French people will use a lot Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Skyscanner, delivery apps…
But when it comes to going out for dinner, the French created their own Made in France app called La Fourchette. La Fourchette (or the Fork) is a free application on iOS and Android that allows you to find nearby restaurants and book a table directly on your smartphone. A great feature if you don’t feel confident booking a table over the phone in French.
Thanks to its easy-to-use interface, you can find your ideal restaurant in a few clicks and find a table at the best time. You can view reviews from other users, as well as the menu offered by the restaurants on the app. The Fork is present in over 20 countries.
Now if you are looking for a doctor or a hospital in France, Doctolib is a great option. Many doctors are listed on the platform. Besides helping you to find a doctor, you will be able to make the appointment online, which avoids the challenge of a phone call in French!
You can also search for doctors and specialists on the Doctolib website by specialisation and localisation. The doctors can be filtered according to the languages they speak, their gender and if they are state-certified or not.
Ameli is the official French healthcare website that has the full directory of all doctors and medical facilities. Once you are registered with French healthcare, you’ll be able to create your ameli account ad follow your reimbursement on the app.
Deezer is the French music app for music on demand. It has its advantages and disadvantages compared to its competition but the main reason why I’ve chosen this one opposed to Spotify is that it pays better for the artists.
The number of listens an artist needs to get one euro: Deezer 174 listens opposed to 254 listens according to the website Statistica.
I’m not going to introduce you to the must-have behemoths here.
If you like watching watch French television comfortably or want to boost your French, the best thing to do is to use the Molotov.tv application.
Molotov.tv is a streaming video platform that allows you to watch French digital terrestrial television (or DTT) channels on your computer or mobile device, via the internet. The platform allows you to watch 41 DTT channels free of charge, but also offers subscriptions to access almost 70 additional channels.
Available for free download only in France, it is possible to access it from other European countries by activating the option in your account! You will then have access to your account as if you were in France! This option is only available with paid subscriptions.
Socializing & support
What do you do when you don’t have anyone nearby to help you?
I remember having strong bronchitis in Barcelona, at the time I was living there. I didn’t know anyone well enough to feel confident to ask for help. (I’m sure you know this feeling)
I sadly dragged myself to the pharmacy and maybe I passed on my bronchitis to someone else…
But isn’t there another way? A way to ask for help from people we don’t know without feeling we are intruding?
Once a colleague told me about the application she was using to socialise with people in her area.
So I did a small research and I even found apps dedicated to helping your neighbours! How great!
Smile is both in French and English. you will find on the app neighbour’s meetings, local events, shared projects, or simply lend a helping hand)
AlloVoisins is also a great app if you are looking for free or paid services from your neighbours like DIY, baby-sitting, IT assistance…
I used also a lot the Meet-up app to meet new people overseas. It is a great app to meet people with the same interest as you and also do some networking.
DeepL is my first choice when it comes to assisted translation. DeepL has an outstanding translation system. Based on reliable sources, it bases its translations on literary works, Unesco patents and texts fed by its multilingual translation search engine Linguee. And it is very effective!
The app can seem a bit basic to some, but for me, it is just the best quality free automatic translator you can find and even for more technical translations!
I hope my best French apps will help you to make your life easier in France.
Of course, there are many more applications I could have listed here but this is already a good start.