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The Top 7 Cities to Live in France
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Settling in a new country as an expat can be quite a challenge, even more so if you’re not sure where to live. If you’re lucky enough to have some flexibility, you may be wondering how to choose the perfect place—one that meets your family’s needs and is affordable for your budget. 

Fortunately, the Association des villes et villages où il fait bon vivre (Association of Cities and Towns with a Good Quality of Life) has put together a survey of nearly 35,000 municipalities in France. Read on to learn about the seven best places to live in France, so you can get your new life off to a great start.

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Survey Methodology

To choose the best places to live in, the Association ranked towns and villages according to nine categories:

  • quality of life
  • safety
  • health
  • business and services
  • transport
  • education
  • sports and activities
  • community
  • housing market

Below are the top 7 cities in the overall ranking 2022.

> Read also:
Guide to renting a home in France
Expats: how to buy a property in France?

1. Angers, the City of Flowers

Not far from La Rochelle is the inland municipality of Angers, home to around 151,000 people. Angers is particularly notable for its proximity to the larger cities of Nantes (1 hour away) and Paris (3 hours away). The city has a bustling economy and several universities.

> Learn more about Angers

2. Annecy, the Alpine Jewel Case

Located near the Swiss border, Annecy is a city of around 126,000 people nestled in the French Alps. Not only does it offer easy access to the mountains, it’s also located right on a lake of the same name. Annecy offers an abundance of green space and a rich cultural life.

> Learn more about Annecy

3. Bayonne, between Sea and Pyrenees

On the other side of the country is Bayonne, located in the French Basque country (Pays Basque) near the Spanish border. The smallest city on this list, it has a population of just 50,000. Bayonne is rich in history and famous for its chocolate.

> Learn more about Bayonne

4. La Rochelle, the ‘Gateway to the Ocean’, in All Its Authenticity

La Rochelle is a port city on the western coast of France, with a population of 75,000. It is known for its sunshine and seafood, as well as its university and old port.

> Learn more about La Rochelle

5. Caen, the charm of Normandy

Less than 3 hours from Paris by car, and 3/4 hour from Deauville, Caen combines many advantages: a city on a human scale (100,000 inhabitants), with a rich historical heritage, which offers many nautical pleasures (at sea and along the Orne estuary) as well as the tranquility of the Normandy countryside nearby.

> Learn more about Caen

6. Le Mans, in the Heart of the ‘Pays de la Loire’

About 100 km northeast of Angers, on the road to Paris, you will find the slightly smaller city of Le Mans. With a population of around 143,000 Le Mans offers easy accessibility to the capital region and to the other cities of northwestern France. It is famous for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest sports car race.

> Learn more about Le Mans

7. Nice, Capital of the French Riviera

The largest municipality on this list, Nice has a population of over 340,000. It is the fifth-largest city in France. Located on France’s southern coast, Nice enjoys a sunny Mediterranean climate and is known for its beaches.

> Learn more about Nice

APRIL International’s Health Insurance for Expats in France

Once you’ve settled into your new home in France, you may still have a few administrative tasks to get out of the way—like dealing with health insurance. 

Did you know that the French healthcare system often does not cover 100 percent of costs? By purchasing supplementary health insurance, expats in France can get full coverage and peace of mind. 

Find out more about our ‘top-up’ health insurance plans, and which one could be right for your circumstances.

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All the advice and information you need to settle in France