Type “London sixth largest French city” or “Londres sixième ville de France” into Google’s search bar and you’ll find dozens of articles and links validating or invalidating this statement, which originated with Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008 during his state visit to the United Kingdom. The statement was then taken up again in 2013 by a certain Boris Johnson, former mayor of the London, who then explained that 250,000 French had made the choice to live there.
Even Emmanuel Macron, then campaigning for the presidency in February 2017, reaffirmed that London was “the sixth [largest] French city.”
However, this is not true, as Guillaume Bazard, Consul General de France in London, assured French Morning London on Tuesday, July 2, at the opening of a conference organized by the French Chamber of Great Britain and ESCP Europe on the impact of Brexit on businesses. “There is no basis to say that London is the sixth largest French city,” said the representative of the State.
Despite a decrease of 0.88% over one year, there were 146,213 registered French nationals living in the U.K. on January 1, 2019, compared to 147,506 on January 1, 2018. However, the Consul General in London estimated that “only one French person residing in the United Kingdom out of two registers” in general, so the actual number would vary between 200 and 250,000.
According to the latest INSEE figures, Nantes is currently the sixth largest city in France, with its population of 303,382. London would rather be between 9th and 11th place, fighting with Bordeaux, Lille and Rennes for its ranking.
This article was originally published on our sister site, French Morning London.
Featured image: Stock Photos from Joe Seer / Shutterstock