For my planned upcoming move to France, to somewhere other than Paris, I'm looking to find somewhere to live. Based on advice in a few of the other questions here, I'm thinking of finding a flat share / house share to start with. (The thinking being that I'll then have some other people to talk to, to practice French with, to find out what's happening in the city etc). I'm probably only after a few months in a shared house/flat though, while I work out what bits of the city I want to be in, get together a dossier to rent etc.

Looking online, I've found various companies that offer holiday-style lettings of single rooms, normally by the day or the week, but that isn't really what I'm interested in. I've found some general advice online, but that all seems to assume you're already in the city, which I'm not as I haven't moved yet.

So, assuming you know where in France you want to move to, somewhere that isn't Paris, and roughly when, how might I go about finding a shared house / flat, without being there (yet), if that's even possible?

(I can specialise this question to just the city of interest in France, if that's felt to be necessary for an appropriate answer, for not it's just "Not Paris")

  • Specifying the city will definitely help, in particular to know if we are talking about Paris, its surroundings, or a totally different city. Mar 24, 2014 at 13:13
  • Lille is the city I had in mind, happy to edit the question to specialise it if you feel that's needed?
    – Gagravarr
    Mar 24, 2014 at 15:51
  • @Gragavarr I think it's mostly Paris vs. the rest.
    – Gala
    Mar 25, 2014 at 21:23
  • OK @GaëlLaurans, clarified as "not Paris"!
    – Gagravarr
    Mar 25, 2014 at 21:26

3 Answers 3


I have personally never used it to find shared accommodation but Le Bon Coin is a popular website for all sorts of classified ads. What you are looking for is a “colocation”. You might give it a shot and start contacting people, at least to arrange meetings/sightings on the day you arrive. Note that sharing accommodation seems less common in France than in some other places I know (e.g. Germany or Ireland).

Not much of an answer but since nothing else seems forthcoming for the time being I thought it could be useful.


Finding long-term accommodation is best if searching is done through informal channels. It really depends on where you will be working. The problem is that you'll need a social network first and you'll typically will develop that once arriving in France.

The already mention air-bnb is a good source for the first week. Try to negotiate a better fee, since you will be staying longer and the regular fee is typically calculated on the basis that some days might not be rented.

Another similar source is only-appartments, which is a bit similar to air-bnb. Although these might be costly, they might provide a base for exploration in the first weeks.

I personally had more success by simply asking. Try to get access to the intranet of your new employer, most intranet has some sort of billboard where announcement by co-workers are posted. Specially if you are going to work in a an expat environment the turnaround of people will be frequent and you might be able to rent a place from someone leaving.

Simply asking your superiors for advise might have some effect as well.

Another option is house sitting. This is typically effective if you will be relocating during the summer months. Since you will be working in the same place, you will be quite trustworthy. Again this needs getting chatty with your new co-workers.

Finally if you speak some french try the gites and chambre d'hotes.


I don't think you will find something to rent from abroad, and personally I will not do it, I prefer to check the house and speck with the landlord before renting it.

Look for a couch on https://www.couchsurfing.org/ for the first few days or for a room/place on https://www.airbnb.com/ from the first month.

Once you are in town, buy a local sim card and start looking for a place to rent.

  • Is the local sim card bit important? I was planning to just keep using my UK phone, which bizarrely is actually cheaper to use for calls or texts when I'm anywhere in Europe other than the UK...
    – Gagravarr
    Mar 26, 2014 at 12:28
  • With a local telephone number, you can easily be reach by landlords for planning the visit and other stuff like that. Try to think as a landlord, would you prefer to call an UK or France number for renting your place? I will be more confident with a local number. A prepaid card is very cheap.
    – Matteo
    Mar 26, 2014 at 12:34

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