Young French look east: bienvenue to Hackney

© david.altheer@gmail.com

SOUTH KENSINGTON is sometimes called the 21st arrondissement. And now it seems that high house prices in SW7 are sending the French to other parts of London, including the East, where prices are lower.

French schools have sprung up in Camden and other areas to cater for the immigrants’ children. In Hackney and the City of London the French population has almost tripled in the last decade, according to Fionnuala Earley, Hamptons International residential research director.

Similarly in Tower Hamlets borough, which includes the financial district of Canary Wharf and the City-bordering Spitalfields.

Earley told Loving Dalston that French exiles now account for about 1% of the overall population in the two boroughs and the City, well above the average for French residents of the capital as a whole, which has 75% more than it did 10 years ago.

“But,” she added, “there’s no lycée [secondary school] in the eastern parts of London, so we can infer that the demographic is likely to be much younger and of more modest means.”

For les jeunes français, property prices and rents in the established West London district were prohibitive, she said.

The tax regime was still driving wealthy leavers to London and the struggling French economy made London attractive to other groups, too. Earley explained: “Across town there is a different vibe. House prices are more affordable and for younger people rental is a realistic and lower-cost tenure choice.”

Loving Dalston has noticed several food and wine vendors from France, such as Eric Rousseau, of Belle Epoque, pictured, starting businesses in Hackney over the last decade or so, along with a sprinkling of artistes culturelles from la grande culture.

Angelique Piliere, 30, a graphic designer from Lyon, said: “I moved to London seven years ago with my husband and picked Hackney as a place to live as it was cheap and the area was really exciting, with a population coming from everywhere— quite alternative compared to the rest of London.”


 

David Altheer

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