Ever wondered about where the best places to live in France are? Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s either Paris or Provence. In this article, we’re dissecting the nation from the famous cities to the hidden gems. Read along as we discover the very best spots in France to call home.
There are many reasons why you might want to move to France. Whether you’re thinking of working in France, retiring to France or studying in France, you’ll need to find a place to live.
As the third-largest country in Europe, France certainly isn’t short for spots to set up camp. It’s divided into 18 regions, all offering a different living experience and making for a tough contest to determine the best place to live in France.
Best places to live in France for expats
Moving abroad means experiencing a whole new way of life. Often, this is a major attraction to upping sticks. Sometimes, however, we just can’t help but miss the feeling of home. Fortunately for homesick migrants, France is brimming with large expat communities dishing out that dose of familiarity.
Here are some of the best places to live in France for expats:
Situated in the northwest of France, Brittany is an expat haven. UK nationals don’t have to journey far to home and can enjoy the endless coastline, historical towns and affordable house prices.
Midi-Pyrénées, the former administrative region in France, is home to a huge expat community. The region covers the border between France and Spain and is well-known for its capital: Toulouse. Toulouse is densely populated with good job opportunities. The outer areas of Midi-Pyrénées are rural and quiet – making it a top choice for expats looking for a gentle French lifestyle.
Now a part of the new, larger region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes has over 16,000 Brits calling it home. Its sunny, warm, southwest France climate makes it attractive to Britons. The town of Charente is the most popular for foreigners, boasting fantastic transport links, the beautiful Charente River and tonnes of outdoor and water sport activities.
Bordeaux: the best place to retire in France
Known by some as ‘Little Paris’, Bordeaux is a beautiful town in the Aquitaine region of Southwest France. What it shares with the capital – and what it doesn’t – makes it perfect for retirees. Bordeaux offers the same cosmopolitan lifestyle as Paris with its high-class shops, traditional cafés and restaurants. Where it differs is the cost.
Living in Bordeaux is considerably cheaper than Paris. And what’s more, the town is surrounded by vineyards. You can either purchase property yourself or kick back and enjoy the yields of one of France’s most famous wine areas.
The weather is better too, with mild winters and delightfully warm summers. You’re equally close to the Pyrenees for some action-packed winter skiing as you are the chilled-out coast for a relaxing summer. Bordeaux really is the place to be for retirees.
If you’re a UK citizen and interested in living in Bordeaux for your retirement, you can find out more with our guide on retiring to France from the UK.
Languedoc-Roussillon: the best place to retire in southern France
Languedoc-Roussillon, these days part of a larger region called Occitanie, is referred to by many as ‘the true South of France’. Kissing the Mediterranean, stocked with wine and armed to the teeth with picturesque villages, the region encapsulates all the wonderful southern France stereotypes.
Languedoc-Roussillon is superbly affordable considering its location. It’s significantly cheaper than Provence and attracts fewer tourists. Its largest city, Montpellier, is a cultural gem. It has a growing economy, a lively social scene and a lucrative real estate market. The city also has great transport connections including five airports.
If the city life isn’t for you, Languedoc-Roussillon is peppered with delightful small towns.
- Uzès is a quaint town with medieval roots and wonderful weekly markets.
- Béziers is famous for its bullfighting but even more so for its wine. It’s a no-brainer for wine connoisseurs with wine competitions, awards and festivals occurring throughout the year.
- Narbonne is a post-card worthy seaside town with a giant tourist-free beach and fantastic weather.
The list of reasons to retire to Languedoc-Roussillon is endless. If you’re after the southern France experience but want to avoid the cash-stripping, tourist-filled experience of Provence or the French Riviera – there really is no better choice.
Best cities to live in France
France is home to hundreds of cities all varying in size, character and population. There are plenty to choose from but here is a short list of some of the best.
Known as both the ‘City of Light’ and ‘City of Love’, France’s capital is world-famous – and for good reason. Aside from its illustrious selection of cafés and restaurants, iconic landmarks and mesmerising museums, Paris is a practical place to live too.
The job market is good, and the economy is strong. You can expect a great work-life balance and use its transportation system to easily get anywhere in Europe.
Widely referred to as the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon is guaranteed to bring the best to the dinner table. As well as its fine food, Lyon is young at heart with an employment focus on technology and innovation. It’s an hour and a bit’s drive to the Alps and home to one of France’s largest city parks.
It’s also a football-mad city but not in the way you might think. Lyon’s women’s football team attracts huge crowds every week and is regarded as the best team in Europe. The city is credited as being a frontrunner for gender equality and this is reflected in the sport.
The oldest city in France by history but not by nature. The fast-growing Marseille is the second-largest city in the country and the biggest on the Mediterranean coast. It has a thriving economy and plenty of job opportunities.
Surprisingly considering its size and location, Marseille is also an affordable place to live. Renting is around 50% cheaper than Paris and purchasing can be as much as 75% less.
Best small towns to live in France
In addition to its wealth of cities, France is well-stocked with quieter small towns. Every location comes with its own qualities with a variety of scenery and culture evident across the nation. We’ve picked out a handful of the best.
Nicknamed the ‘Venice of the Alps’, Annecy may be the perfect uncovered gem for romantic couples. It’s an incredibly dynamic and scenic town, populated with meandering canals and a crystal-clear lake. The town sits close to France’s border with Switzerland and the peaks of the Alps are in full view.
Residents in Annecy love their sport and outdoor activities. You’ll find an array of sports clubs, ranging from ice hockey to table tennis, skiing to bridge, and cycling to squash. Like most of France, the town is also big on its food. It hosts bistros and restaurants covering all bases from casual to three-star Michelin.
Get a taste of Provence from a lesser-known location with Lourmarin. The village’s foundations date back to the Middle Ages but nowadays its cobbled streets are lined with boutiques, restaurants and cafés. You’ll be followed by the scent of lavender on a trip to the market and shadowed by ivy-lined stone buildings.
The way of life here is laidback and peaceful – ideal for people looking to relax in a picture-perfect place in France.
A town built for beach lovers, Juan-les-Pins may be one of the best for getting your toes sandy. Located on the French Riviera, the town is famous for its annual jazz festival and its residents enjoy a small community feel.
The weather is generally great all year so you can enjoy some of its great food and drink al fresco whenever you fancy it.
Send money to France
Once you’ve found your dream spot in France, you’ll need to sort out your money. We can help you with buying property in France, moving your pension or transferring money to family.
Our Foreign Exchange Specialists will guide you through the process, helping you navigate the ever-moving currency markets and giving you peace of mind. What’s more, we can help you secure top exchange rates to ensure you’re getting the right price for your euros.
Book a free chat with a Privalgo Foreign Exchange Specialist today and see what we can do for you.Request a quote