France has a long association with India and remains a popular tourist destination with many people visiting Auroville in Pondicherry, itself an old French colonial town. Today there are a multitude of French companies like Renault, Michelin, Capgemini, KRDS, Accor Hotels and Alcatel Lucent that have offices and factories in and around the city.
The location of many of these companies in the city means that French expats are spread throughout the city. For example, Michelin has a large factory about 60KM to the north west of the city which means Anna Nagar and Nungambakkam are popular locations for French expats living in Chennai.
To the south west Renault has a factory at Mahindra World City which is about 50KM away. Depsite being so far from the city, many companies have established offices here and there are plenty of accommodation options from apartments to villas.
To the south of the city is the Old Mahabilapuram Road (known as the OMR) which has lots of large IT parks where thousands of people work in the back offices of some of the world’s best known companies. Housing costs can range from 25,000 rupees a month for a small apartment to over 200,000 rupees a month for a villa with a swimming pool and garden.
Consulate General of France
There is no French Consulate in Chennai. The nearest consulate is the Consulate General of France in Pondicherry. The town is a former French colony and has plenty of French heritage so it makes sense that France would locate a consulate here.
Alliance Française of Madras
The Alliance Française of Madras is designed to help promote cultural relations between France and India. It offers regular cultural events and exhibitions along with a media library of French music and film. French expats living in Chennai might be able to find a little bit of home within the grounds of Alliance Française.
There is only one school in Chennai where the lessons are taught in French, l’école Française de Chennai. The school offers both a primary and secondary school education.
For French parents that want to send their child to an international school, the American International School in Taramani is the most popular choice. The lessons are all taught in English but it caters specifically to the needs of international pupils. The cost is $35,000 USD per child, per year.
There are two very important things to know about food and drink in Chennai
- The only meat that is easily available is chicken, lamb (mutton) and fish. Beef and pork is not easy to buy and is only available at specialist butchers or at the luxury hotels.
- Alcohol is not available at most restaurants. Only restaurants in hotels can serve beer and wine. Additionally, wine is generally not available except at the five star hotels where the cost is much higher than what you might pay at home.
Chennai is filled with great restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world. However, you need to be aware that the dishes have been altered to suit the tastes of the local population so you might find the dishes have a different taste to what you are used to.
There is a small bistro called L’Amandier in the centre of the city that tries to recreate a European setting. The menu is very European and it’s popular with the more affluent people of Chennai.
Expat Groups and Clubs
There are plenty of groups and clubs to be a member of as a French expat in Chennai. Internations connects people from all over the world and hosts regular events at different locations in the city. For expat women, the Overseas Women’s Club is a highly active club to be involved with.