French population in Brussels doubles in 20 years

French population in Brussels doubles in 20 years
The French flag. Credit: Anthony Choren at Unsplash

The French population in Brussels has doubled over the past twenty years, according to a study from Brussels ULB university.

The study looked into immigration patterns from France to Brussels and found that the typical French person in Brussels is more likely to be female than male.

"In Brussels there are 120 (French) women for every 100 men in the 20-34 age group and almost 150 in the 20-24 age group."

Between 1970 and 2021, the number of French in Brussels multiplied from 23,000 to 67,000. While the population intake from France was slow in the 1990s, it accelerated between 2000 and 2010, with an annual growth of almost 4%, which "is quite exceptional, even for an immigrant population," the researchers said.

They pointed out that only London has more French nationals than Brussels outside of France.

A generational trend

French people migrating to Brussels tend to be young. One in twelve French nationals residing in Brussels is between 20 and 34; one in ten is aged 25 to 29.

Contrary to popular belief, the French population in Brussels aren't just wealthy expats in Uccle trying to evade French taxes, the researchers stress.

French people also come to Brussels universities; amounting to over 10,000 French students in 2021. Indeed, almost all French residents in Brussels have (or are working towards) a university degree.

That isn't by chance. "The higher the level of education of the migrant (or his or her parents), the greater the distance travelled in a move", the authors of the study explained.

Uccle, Ixelles and Saint-Gilles are French favourites

The majority of French in Brussels opt for the "wealthy districts of the south-east", the study noted, settling in Uccle, Ixelles and the upper part of Saint-Gilles.

There are almost no French in the western part of Brussels. Instead, they account for 10% of people living close to Avenue Louise, Brussels more upmarket southeast side.

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