The 10 Best Places To Live In France

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One of the largest European countries, France is an incredibly diverse destination with a mind-blowing wealth of experiences and an inviting lifestyle on offer.

Only a short hop across the channel from the UK it’s one of the most tempting countries in Europe for British expats.

But what is the best place to live in France?


Let’s find out…

Paris

live in paris

It’s easy to fall for the seductive charms of France’s capital city.

Paris has beguiled artists, intellectuals and dreamers for centuries thanks to the city’s elegance and inimitable style.

It’s a place of icons — of luxury and romance.

Here you’ll find some of the best restaurants in the world, some of the hippest bars and clubs, some of the most inspiring galleries and museums, some of the most cutting edge fashion and design.

This vast cosmopolitan city welcomes expats from all over the world who come to enjoy the unique Parisian culture. It’s easy to make friends here, and there are good education options for children and an excellent level of healthcare.

As with most places in France it is helpful to speak French, particularly if you are looking for work in the city, and as the cost of city living is high you will most likely need to.

The Paris climate is similar to that of the south of the UK, with winters normally staying the right side of zero and summers being comfortably warm.

Brittany

british expats in brittany

Being so close to the UK, there’s a huge expat community in Brittany.

The region itself has some significant differences between the north and south, but whether it’s the wilder, windier north or the sunnier, more touristy south, each part of Brittany has its own distinct appeal.

There are stunning beaches, pretty coastal towns and villages, and medieval cities everywhere you look, as well as glorious green swathes of countryside and mysterious forests further inland.

Brittany is generally slightly warmer and drier than the south coast of England, and the south coast has a microclimate which means it can get scorching in the summer months.

The Bretons are fiercely proud of their culture, and the Breton language is widely spoken across the region, but they are a warm and friendly people and expats usually find it easy to integrate.

The cost of living is cheaper than in the UK, with even property prices being significantly lower. All in all Brittany offers one of the best places to live in france for British expats.


Lyon

expats in lyon

Stylish and cultural Lyon is touted as the gastronomical capital of France and holds serious appeal for foodies.

Situated where the Rhône and Saône Rivers meet, this attractive city in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

Made up of the ancient medieval city and the thriving contemporary part of the city with dynamic nightlife, museums and galleries, top notch bars and restaurants, beautiful parks (one of which is the largest urban park in France) plus superb shopping opportunities, Lyon has something for everyone.

Summers are warm with temperatures up to around 27°C on average, and winter temperatures rarely get below 3°C, but it can be rainy at times.

Transportation links in the city are excellent, and there are a good amount of job opportunities for English expats, although it is a big plus if you speak French when it comes to looking for work.

Bordeaux

move to bordeaux

The port city of Bordeaux on the Garonne River in the south west of France has been welcoming expats for centuries.

The city is, of course, world famous for its excellent wine, a robust and fruity beverage whose grapes are grown in the surrounding green countryside on the banks of the river in the warmth of the French sunshine.

Summers are hot and dry, winters are mild and winter, autumn and spring can bring rain.

Bordeaux is another UNESCO World Heritage world heritage site, awarded this status thanks to the wealth of historical buildings and classical and neoclassical architecture dating from the 18th Century, and the city also boasts numerous museums and art galleries.

This is also a student city, which adds a good dose of fun and vitality to city life, with bars, restaurants and clubs buzzing with life.

Marseilles

where to live in france

For thousands of years Marseilles has been a melting pot of cultures thanks to its position as a trading port on France’s south coast since its construction by the ancient Greeks around 600BC.

In its recent past, Marseilles has suffered from a bad reputation for being rather run down, but much work has been done to give the city a boost by cleaning it up and building new museums, chic boutiques and other attractions, as well as being full to the brim with exciting nightlife, cuisine, theatres and more.

Thanks to the city’s cultural diversity it is an excellent choice for expats, with good English speaking schools, and there’s even a direct Eurostar service to London from the within the city.

There is very little rainfall here, and summers can be scorching, so many who live here choose to pass their summertime relaxing on the city’s stunning waterfront.

Corsica

live in corsica

Far away from the French mainland in the middle of the Mediterranean sea west of Italy lies the undeniably beautiful French island of Corsica.

Distinctly different from France (in fact it feels more like a taste of Italy) the main language spoken on the island is nevertheless French, and due to its isolated nature and the high cost of living there is only a small British expat community here.

That said, Corsica has a cornucopia of delights on offer, from its pleasantly warm climate (with average highs of 27°C in the summer) to the diverse landscapes of glittering sandy beaches, tumbling waterfalls, mountains and deep forests and plenty more to attract nature lovers.

Quaint villages and historic fortified towns are everywhere, and restaurants serve up hearty, rustic dishes to please all tastes.

Nice

british expats in nice

The glamorous French Riviera boasts blue skies, glorious Mediterranean views and a thrilling and sophisticated lifestyle.

The city of Nice just a little further along the coast from Cannes and not far from Monaco has long been a favourite of artists and the jet set alike, and many expats are drawn here by the beauty and style of the city, and the relaxed way of life, as well as the amazing weather.

Nice is also popular with tourists, and as such can get seriously crowded during the summer months, but there are some excellent restaurants, a rich cultural heritage, vibrant open air markets, serious shopping, a bustling port and masses of other fun things to do and see in this cosmopolitan city.

Being a tourist orientated city, it is relatively easy for British expats to find work here in the hospitality industries, and there is a large expat community here, but bear in mind that the cost of living can be high.

Grenoble

best places to live in france

The capital city of the Alps, Grenoble is a energetic and constantly developing city, that provides an active lifestyle and a reasonably affordable cost of living for expats, although housing and food can be a little expensive.

This is an academic city, with no less than four universities offering education to students from all over the globe, as well as scientific, engineering and IT institutes with plenty of employment opportunities in those sectors.

Unsurprisingly then, there is a large and well established English speaking expat community, with plenty of organisations, schools, language classes restaurants and bars, and international arts and film events catering to expats.

Surrounded by the looming mountain ranges of some of France’s most beautiful national parks there are plenty of natural spaces to explore outside of the city, and masses of entertainments in the form of museums, nightlife, museums, restaurants and more, and all with a pleasantly mild climate.

Cannes

best place to live in france

A jewel in the crown of the Côte d’Azur on the southern coast of France, Cannes is world famous for its ritzy glitzy annual film festival.

This seaside resort town is regarded as one of the cultural centres of France, and is bursting with activities all year round, from regattas to concerts, and theatre performances.

As you would expect, this is also a city soaked in glamour, with the luxurious year-round climate (it often reaches 30°C during the summer), attractive architecture, fancy boutiques, stylish harbour, gorgeous beaches and yacht lifestyle attracting the rich and well heeled from all over the world.

The cost of all this opulence is high, and Cannes can be an expensive place to live for expats, but the lure of this stunning coastal town has nevertheless tempted a large number of expats to make Cannes their permanent home.

Chamonix

where to live in france

Some of the most breathtaking mountain views in the world can be had at the alpine resort of Chamonix at the base of Mont Blanc.

Skiing during the winter months is almost obligatory, but during the summer the slopes of the valley’s snow capped peaks soften into a beautiful landscape rich with stunning scenery, high meadows full of flowers and rewarding hiking, climbing and biking trails.

This is a paradise for nature lovers and sports enthusiasts alike.

The town centre has some excellent restaurants in cosy surroundings (including 3 Michelin starred restaurants), as well as bubbly bars with live music, and nightclubs.

Chamonix benefits from an international community, although many of these inhabitants are seasonal workers who don’t live in Chamonix all year round, and many expats who live here permanently choose to set up their own businesses.


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