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The Alliance Francaise in Hong Kong across a road, partially blocked by palm trees

The Francophile’s Guide to Hong Kong



Did you know that French people make up one of the largest ex-patriate communities in Hong Kong? Chatteris Tutor and Francophile Lamia Farah muses on her relationship with French culture, and shows us how you can connect with it even when 6076 miles away from its origin!



My admiration for the French language began in 2007 when my aunt began teaching my sister and me a few French words. Everyday words like bin and scooter were permanently replaced with poubelle and trottinette. ‘Please put this in the poubelle’ and ‘you can ride your trottinette this afternoon’ became perfectly normal sentences in our household. 


Naturally, my French journey continued with IGCSEs, A Levels, French clubs, French holiday classes and my travels. With Hong Kong being the sixth city I have moved to, I’ve certainly learnt a thing or two about how to cultivate a Francophilian bubble and how to be Parisian wherever you are – okay maybe not the latter, there’s a book written about that by someone much more qualified. I do, however, have some findings on how to navigate Hong Kong as a Francophile that I’d be happy to share.


If, like me, you live in constant fear of regressing in your second languages then you know that maintaining and improving your language skills is no easy feat. It requires consistent, time-consuming practice. In this regard, Hong Kong residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to language learning centres. Most language schools offer French lessons, and there is no shortage of private French tutors. If you’re looking for French books, the Parentheses French Bookshop in Central is a great place to start. 





Learning the Language


There are also a plethora of opportunities to immerse yourself in a Francophilian bubble in Hong Kong through private lessons, group lessons, French workshops and of course, meeting Francophones. According to figures from the French consulate in Hong Kong, the local French population is the fastest growing expatriate community in the city, growing recently at 5% year on year. There are an estimated 25,000 French expats currently living in Hong Kong and that’s just people from France, Hong Kong is also home to expats from other French-speaking countries. You can meet francophones and francophiles or others who share your interests in MeetUp groups and on apps like Tandem which connect you to people who speak your target language and who are looking to learn your language. 



French Culture in Hong Kong


If you love French culture and French food, but don’t care too much for the language, Hong Kong boasts a variety of French restaurants and cafés like Metropolitain, La Crêperie and Fleur de Sel to name a few. You won’t be deprived of French onion soup and crêpes in Hong Kong! Where culture is concerned, Alliance Française de Hong Kong offers events (a few in English) ranging from pastry workshops to French film screenings. 


I write this in early-March, which means that many celebratory events are already underway for International Francophone Day on March 20th. This year, the events include film screenings, French literature workshops, and French speech competitions, just to name a few. Later this week, I’ve reserved a seat to watch a Quebecois film entitled ‘Ru.’ It’s about a young Vietnamese refugee girl and her family and how they adapt to their new life in Québec. Canadian French has always been super intimidating for me, so thankfully there will be subtitles!




Connect with international cultures in just one city and bring your own culture to classrooms across Hong Kong – cultural exchange is one of the five ‘C’s’ of Chatteris, after all! Sign up here to apply for the Chatteris International Graduate Programme.



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