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Being French in Lisbon

Being French in Lisbon

The French Community In Lisbon

The French community is the third-largest community in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, after the British and American communities.

Their presence is due to Portugal’s colonial ties to France over four centuries—it was one of the last countries in Europe to give up its overseas empire, which included most of Brazil.

Femme francaise à Lisbon assise sur le bord d'une falaise regardant la mer eu couché de soleil

The first wave of French people who arrived in Portugal came from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and the former Yugoslavia after it broke up during the 1990s. The next wave consisted of those who left France because they were unable to find jobs or had difficulty adapting to life there.

Then came another wave that traveled looking for work and found it here with firms like Renault, Michelin and EDF which had factories producing cars, tires and electricity respectively in Portugal.

A lot of these people are descended from French soldiers who came to these parts during the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the nineteenth century, or left France during its own long revolutionary period in between wars. The community also includes many French nationals who come on work visas and stay on for a few years as teachers, engineers, or businesspeople.

Some words that best describe this group include: cultured (art galleries), cosmopolitan (LGBTQ+), open-minded (progressive values).

What The French People In Lisbon Like To Do?

Many of the French people came to Lisbon to practice medicine, study, or just for leisure.

The French community in Lisbon has created a rich and active culture that has touched many different aspects. Many of them have lived in Portugal for at least ten years and are proud of their adopted country.

There is a French international school in Lisbon, the French Lycée International Marie Curie. The "Lisbon Magazine" also has a French language section called "Français à Lisbonne".The Portuguese people who have moved to France have created a rich and vibrant culture in that country.

medecin francophone a Lisbonne

The French community in Portugal has brought with it their language and culture, as well as their fairs, markets and festivals. The Portuguese people are very welcoming of this. They like to learn about French culture and the two communities share a lot of cultural similarities.

They like to spend their free time with each other, going to the movies or the theater, or just having coffee and reading the newspaper. 

The French community likes to attend fairs, markets and cultural events organized by the Portuguese only. They even hold their own 'Marché Francais' every year in Lisbon, where they can buy products from France or just have a taste of what it's like to be in Paris for a day. ."The Portuguese community, on the other hand, likes to attend fairs and cultural events that are organized by the French only.


Life Of A French Individual In Lisbon

It is hard to say what the average French person living in Portugal likes to do. But it can be said for sure that they are very amicable and try to mix with the Portuguese people as much as possible.

The average French person living in Portugal likes to eat traditional Portuguese food, drink a lot of wine and dance the night away. The average French person living in Portugal speaks very good Portuguese and has done so for at least ten years.

Femme francaise a Lisbon faisant du Yoga

They typically have an above-average education level, as well as both a work and study permit. This is because the average French person living in Portugal's family life is stable - they have been married for at least two years, are parents to two children under 25, and their lifestyle is typical of most French people:


Educational Opportunities For French Community In Lisbon

Concerning education, a high school exclusively for the children of French nationals is located in Lisbon.

For those who don’t have access to bilingual education, it offers language courses for adults and children. France’s Institut Français du Portugal runs this school in collaboration with the Portuguese Ministry of Education.

French student in a bibliotheca in Lisbon

French is also an official language at other schools such as Lisbon's Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo de Lisboa (eHTL), Lisbon's Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão (esTG), Lisbon's Escola Secundária do Lumiar (esL), Lisbon's Escola Secundária Infanta D Maria Ana (ésIMA) or L axes Escola Secundária Infanta D Maria Ana (ésIMA).The international school of Lisbon, the International School of Lisbon, serves students from more than 100 different countries.

The student body is primarily made up of expatriates from the United States and other English-speaking countries. Students are admitted to the school based on their English speaking ability.

Lisbon's primary education system consists of six cycles or grades: infant school (infantil), elementary school (elementar), middle school (intermediário), high school or junior high school (secundário), Liceu de Lisboa, and university.


Language Barriers, Similarities & Conflicts

The Portuguese government is trying to attract French expatriates to Portugal with the help of incentives.

Drapeau français et Portugais dans un match de foot

Mutual understanding and respect has led to a growing French community in Portugal.

More than 25,000 French people live in Portugal, primarily in Lisbon and the surrounding Alentejo region. In recent years, France has been the leading country for Portuguese exports, with a global share of 20%.

  • The Portuguese government is trying to attract these expats with the help of incentives such as tax reductions and exemption from social security contributions on their retirement pension. 
  • The Portuguese language is the primary language. However, due to the French influence, several French expressions have become a common part of popular culture and everyday life in Portugal.

This includes "bem-vindo" ("welcome") (from "bonjour"), "tudo bem" ("everything's fine") (from "merci"), or even the word for goodbye, adeus (from adieu).

There are also some French words that are still used in Portugal with their French pronunciation, such as "ouvrir" ("to open") or "café" ("coffee"). 


Cultural differences and other impactful aspects

A major problem in maintaining the relationship is due to cultural differences. Portuguese and French believe in different religions and their educational systems are completely different.

However, both countries have attempted to tackle the issues of language barriers and other difficulties through reciprocal visits by high-ranking government officials (such as the king of France visiting Portugal) and by implementing a mandatory course for Portuguese and French people studying abroad in order to learn the other's language.

Portugal is a primarily Roman Catholic country, whereas France has a primarily secular society. 

Though the two countries are not at odds with each other, there are tensions caused by differences in religion and traditions. 

One example of this conflict is that France does not recognize marriages conducted under the Portuguese law of "free marriage", which allows individuals to enter into legal unions without the need for a ceremony or witnesses. 

A major political issue in France is the "Right of Entry" to be claimed by non-EU spouses, who would otherwise be required to obtain a residence permit and wait for five years before being granted one.

In Portugal, the EU law prohibits discrimination on grounds of nationality.In addition to a shared legal system, both countries share similar cultural traditions and respect international law. They are partner countries in the European Union and NATO.

France maintains an embassy in Lisbon. Portugal maintains an embassy in Paris. The French people have been living in Portugal for centuries and now constitute an integrated minority with their own language, culture and identity.

The Portuguese-French community has a positive impact on the society and economy as well as on culture, arts and education. This community might also represent an opportunity for future cooperation between France and Portugal.


Business Opportunities For French Community In Lisbon

The French community in Portugal has different opportunities for businesses. Portuguese authorities have introduced a number of new initiatives to facilitate the integration of the community and promote its economic development.

Businessman in  Portugal

The "Décret de Ratification" of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007) has made it easier for French companies to do business within Portugal by amending certain articles of the Portuguese Constitution.An agreement between France and Portugal on the promotion and expansion of bilateral economic and trade relations was signed in Lisbon on September 27, 2006.

This agreement aims to encourage business opportunities for French firms with a strong presence in both countries. It is intended to support trade activities and enhance cooperation between the two countries in the fields of trade and economic development.The Portuguese government has also taken measures to attract French companies.

The Portuguese government, through an agreement with France, signed on September 27, 2006, has set up a special fund which will be used to finance investment in areas such as transportation and information technology, which targets companies whose turnover exceeds €2 million in France or €1 million in Portugal is also available to French firms who want to establish a branch office or headquarters there.

In nutshell, The French community in Portugal is an important part of the economy, culture, language and food. They occupy the second largest French-speaking population in Europe and their presence in Lisbon has strengthened the two countries of Europe.

Spending power, tourism, and investments all have been positively influenced by the French community in Lisbon. 


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