The Emily Effect? Why more and more Americans want to move to France

City bosses credit the 'Emily in Paris effect' but new polls show that a high percentage of Americans have a good opinion of France, and many would like to live here some day.

The Emily Effect? Why more and more Americans want to move to France
Cast members of Emily in Paris at the series three premiere launch in the French capital. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

How opinions change. In 2003, France was terra non grata in parts of USA because of then-President Jacques Chirac’s vociferous and determined opposition to the invasion of Iraq by George W Bush’s ‘Coalition of the Willing’. 

French fries were even renamed ‘Freedom Fries’ in some places, such was the righteous US anger at France’s position.

Now, however, according to an Ifop poll for US Francophile travel site Bonjour New York, the image of France and the French has transformed. A total 73 percent of US citizens have a good opinion of the country and its people, up from just 39 percent in 2007, four years after the political stand-off over the invasion of Iraq. 

And, of those Americans who have a ‘very good’ impression of the French, 47 percent have watched Emily in Paris, compared to 17 percent who have not.

Among fans, 86 percent have a good opinion of the show’s city chic location.

READ ALSO Emily in Paris’ Sylvie: ‘There’s a certain type of American who thinks they know everything, and we French block them’

More than one in three – 36 percent – of those surveyed said that they would be happy to live in France, compared to just over one in five (21 percent) in 2005.

If you’re among those who dreams of moving to France, head to our Moving to France section for more practical information, and the Americans in France section for information specifically tailored to US citizens. Members of The Local can also sign up HERE to our monthly Americans in France newsletter, giving you all the latest need-to-know information. 

However only 28 percent of working-age Americans (18 to 65) would move to France for work.

A total three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans would like to spend a short stay in Paris, the prospect of following in Emily’s footsteps by spending a year there also attracts nearly half (44 percent), especially among the younger age group, notably progressive urbanites.

While many who live in France – Paris in particular – may scoff at the Netflix show’s sanitised image of the capital, US people consider its portrayal of the city as accurate, with 83 percent of those polled saying it offers a realistic view.

READ ALSO 9 French Netflix series that aren’t Emily in Paris

And 67 percent of Americans consider Paris to be a ‘clean city’, compared to just 16 percent of Parisians, according to the survey.

But the poll’s authors pointed out that France’s image among Americans was improving before Emily in Paris hit the streaming service, and that cine-tourism – travel influenced by films or TV shows – is not a uniquely French thing: in 2019, some 80 million travellers chose their destinations because of films and series they had seen.

Beyond the Ifop poll, according to the 2023 Barnes City Index Ultra High-Net-Worth Individuals, the French capital has risen four places to the top of the list of the most sought-after cities for the very wealthy this year. And according to the British real estate agency “GetAgent”, searches for removals in Paris increased 1,416 percent after the release of the last season of Emily in Paris. 

Finally, according to the tourist board, visitor numbers to France were up significantly in 2022, with Greater Paris welcoming 7.2 million foreign visitors between January and the end of May. 

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South-west France offers €10-per-day unlimited rail travel

Check out France's beautiful south-west this summer with a €10-per-day unlimited rail pass, created by local authorities to help people explore the region.

South-west France offers €10-per-day unlimited rail travel

Occitanie, in south-west France, has created a €10 per day rail pass that allows travellers and holidaymakers unlimited travel on local trains the length and breadth of the region.

The pass is valid on local TER services run by the Occitanie region and allows travel on 19 rail lines to all of the region’s 150 stations.

The Occitanie Rail Tour Pass offers unlimited rail travel for between two and six consecutive days from Lourdes to Nîmes, Perpignan to Rodez – and all points in the region in between.

The pass will be valid on all 19 liO rail lines, from all 150 stations in all 13 départements across the region. It cannot be used on the high-speed TGV trains or on Intercité or night train routes.

Additionally, the region’s liO buses can take passengers to parts of the region the train can’t reach for an additional €2 per trip.

The rail pass is intended to open up a region that stretches from the Pyrenees and Mediterranean in the south to the Massif Central in the north, taking in towns and cities including Toulouse, Montpellier, Auch, Lourdes, Albi, Perpignan, Rodez, Narbonne and Nîmes.

The Occitanie region in south-west France. Map: Wikicommons

The region is part of the historic area of Languedoc and is famous for well-preserved Medieval castles, beautiful coastlines, hearty cooking including traditional dishes like cassoulet and some Catalan influences from its neighbour Spain.

READ ALSO The best regional food and drink specialities in south-west France

The rail pass is available to buy now and tickets can be bought for dates until the end of July – although the offer could be extended. Buy here.