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I have heard it can be difficult to open a bank account in France, can anyone recommend a good bank in which to open an account? My bank in the States has a partnership with BNP Paribas but my husband’s French employer recommended that we go through a bank specifically for expats. Thoughts?
We chose HSBC when opening an account because it is the only bank in France that also exists in the USA and Hong Kong (the two other places we spend most of our time). Turns out it is really only HSBC in name (HSBC bought a french bank recently) and not very well integrated with the branches outside of France, so we use our Bank of America account when outside of France.

All banks in France kinda suck compared to US banks in terms of cost, so we haven't really seen any reason to switch from HSBC. HSBC does only have 3 ATM machines in the entire city though, although they let you use other bank's ATMs 5 times per month without extra fees.

My husband will be working in Saint-Foy-Les-Lyon so we are looking to move either to the 2, 5 or 9 Arrondissement (or Saint-Foy). How is public transportation in the 5 & 9 Arr.? We would prefer to be outside of the centre ville (which is why we are leaning towards the 5 & 9) but we would like to have food markets in walking distance & access to public transportation.
There is one subway stop in the 5th, and 2 in the 9th. There are no trams, but good bus service. The velo'v bike rental service starts thinning out when you get too far out in the 9th.

Most of the 5th is the old section of lyon, which is quite touristy and home to many good restaurants and bars. It is also the area of town that probably has the highest concentration of english speakers (due to all the Irish pubs i think). Being touristy most shops are open late, and even open on Sunday! It can also be very noisy.

The 9th has a nice little shopping area near metro valmy, but outside of that is very residential and quiet. I have never been to any markets over there, but I am sure they have them.

I would really recommend living close to metro stop valmy (or maybe vaise at the furthest), but not past the end of the metro line unless you have a car. The transportation workers here strike all the time, and the metro that goes out to the 9th is a driverless automatic system, so it never strikes :)

I speak very basic French and would like to enroll in a class as soon as my plane touches the tarmac. I looked into some language schools but they are a bit pricey, is it true that there are free French classes given by the town hall?
It seems that the government enforces these classes more than offers them. I have recently renewed my carte de sejour, and me (and my wife) would love to have free French classes, but they wouldn't let us take them :-/

There is a group called the AVF (Accueil des Villes Françaises) that meets in the 5th that has free conversation groups a few times per week. They are not super structured, but if you speak a little french that are great for practicing, and always have at least one native speaker to ask questions to.

And…does anyone know of some decent & not-so-pricey furniture shops?
IKEA is cheap, I've heard people say dépot-vente Troc.com : achat vente de meubles d'occasion, d'électromenager d'occasion, etc. - Troc.com (they have a store here) is cheap, but I have never shopped there. I got a lot of my stuff when another American couple moved back to the US and sold all their stuff, so join the AVF or american club or something and wait for people to move to get the good deals :)
 
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