We’re not your parents, and you’re not in middle school, so we’re not here to tell you how to make friends. What we can do is tell you how friends are made in Paris. We tried to break it down, and we assume this is the case for most people who move to any new place.
French Isolation / Indifference: These are the native Parisian/French. They think you’re temporary, they’re not interested in superficial friendships, which they’re sure to have with you. They’re satisfied with their “bande des potes” from primary school and don’t see a need to change it up a bit. Ways to break in: date one and get to know his/her friends. Just know that if you break up, they’re not yours to keep. Married or otherwise spoken for? Another way to break into this crowd would be professionally. Or get to know your neighbors, your local cafe goers, or find a church or a volunteer association to join. Have kids? Meet their classmates’ parents! Have a dog? Meet their friends’ owners! Stick around. If you end up staying the in same place for longer than six months, they’ll start to warm up to you and you’ll like them more.
Sticking to your own kind: A snowball of relationships with people from your native country or language/culture. Introductions from coworkers, classmates, neighbors, associations, or culture-specific pulls (Irish pubs, Japanese run restaurants, foreign supermarkets, etc.) While these groups are certainly comforting, we would still encourage you to stretch. Small, temporary, incestuous…you’re been forewarned!
International and open, Cosmopolitan French: The best of all worlds – native Parisians who have perhaps lived abroad and are the “open to new experiences and new people” kind, comfortable compatriots from back home, and a good mix of other international and cosmopolitan minded people.
Your friends: If you stay long enough, they just become your friends.
The first time I met my Irish and French friend Dave at an anglo bar in Odeon, he asked me how long I planned to stay in Paris. When I gave an open-ended answer, “I don’t know, I could see myself here for a while after I finish my studies” I think he replied “Good, then we can be friends.” And it struck me: note to self, people don’t like friends with “sell by” dates.