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Gallic guide to the city offers tips for new arrivals

HOW to find local accommodation, laws and customs, even the best way to learn Chinese are just some of the topics discussed in a new French-language guidebook aimed at young arrivals to Shanghai.

Designed and created by local expats from the Junior French Chamber of Commerce (Jeune Chambre Economique) in cooperation with the Consulate General of France in Shanghai, the free guidebook uses cartoons, illustrations and simple language to make it accessible to young people.

The director of the "Le Petit Milu" guidebook project, Manuel Ramos, says the consulate and the chamber want a novel and interesting way to reach the increasing number of young French expats in Shanghai.

The average age of the more than 10,000-strong French community in the city is 28 years old and Ramos says the guide aims at providing useful information from people who actually live in Shanghai.

"The Junior French Chamber of Commerce and the consulate were both asking how we could reach this growing group of young French people who are coming to the city," Ramos says.

"We want to help them set up their lives here and also to explain some key points about Shanghai without being a formal or bureaucratic-type document," he says.

The guidebook is split into 11 chapters covering everything from how to register with the police when you first arrive to tips on getting a job, local laws and customs and issues surrounding finance. Areas that many young people may not consider, like health insurance and taxation regulations, are also covered in an easy-to-understand way.

French Consul General Thierry Mathou says the French population in Shanghai is growing rapidly and is now the biggest French community in Asia.

"It (the French population in Shanghai) is a young and very dynamic population," he says.

"Shanghai is a very attractive place, especially for French people having in mind the 'Paris of the Orient,' but it is also a complex city, particularly for young people who need to understand the rules and principles of this city in order to fully benefit from their expatriation," Mathou says.

The guide was compiled by five contributors coming from a diverse range of industries, such as marketing, media, business owners and entrepreneurs.

The contributors are Monique Chareuntakul, Emmanuelle Limousin, Benjamin Blanc, Julien Provenzano and Christopher Martinez.

Ramos, who wrote the chapter dealing with how to best learn Chinese in Shanghai, says the guide is not prescriptive but aims to provide a number of options in differing fields.

For instance, in the Chinese language section, Ramos breaks down the various pros and cons of private tuition, group lessons, language exchange and learning Chinese at a university.

The illustrations by professional illustrator Sylvain Limousi are colorful and vibrant, providing visual depictions of typical scenarios or exchanges that expats would commonly experience in the city.

The guide will be available at French institutions such as the consulate and chamber of commerce from this week.

An online version of the guide is also going to be launched this week. Anyone interested can access it via

The guide will also be distributed in September to cafes and other entertainment venues in Shanghai.


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