Hong Kong: French Community Grows Five Fold in 10 Years

Le French May

The number of French people living in Hong Kong has increased five-fold over the last 10 years, and their presence is changing the face of some neighborhoods as Frenchmen open art galleries, bistros, and boutiques.

High taxes and a lack of opportunity at home are driving an increasing number of French men and women to seek opportunities abroad, and Hong Kong is one of their favoured destinations.

Hong Kong’s French expatriate community has increase five-fold over the last decade. There are now estimated to be more than 25,000 French nationals living in the city.

There are now an estimated 900 French companies doing business in Hong Kong, including 311 branch offices and 68 regional headquarters. They have a combined annual turnover of HK$110 billion (US$14.19 billion).

The French International School, which opened in 1963, is over-subscribed, with a long waiting list. There are now 4 campuses, the newest of which opened on the Kowloon Peninsula in 2014.

The high school campus on Hong Kong Island is adding classrooms as well as a swimming pool, a gym, and other facilities.

Is the Pearl of the East the new Gallic Land of Opportunity?

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Cafe Culture

Hong Kong has always had a French community, but it was limited mostly to bankers, businessmen, diplomats, executive chefs at 5 star hotels, and, of course, their families.

What is changing now is the arrival of so many entrepreneurs, who are opening art galleries, bistros, boutiques, delicatessens, and other small businesses.

The French presence can be seen in such neighborhoods as Sai Ying Poon, SoHo, and Sheung Wan, where French is increasingly being heard on the sidewalks.

So many French people have settled in Sai Ying Poon, in fact, that it is starting to be referred to as Little Paris.

A recent walk down Hollywood Road, which has long been home to dozens if not hundreds of art galleries and antique shops, revealed fully five French businesses within two blocks of one another: three art galleries and two cafes.

Hong Kong is now home to the largest French expatriate community in Asia – and 2nd largest expatriate French community in the world.

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