France has a population of over 67 million, with a significant chunk being expats who are looking for a better quality of life. Whether you’re drawn to the bright lights of Paris, or the tasty cuisine that Lyon is famous for, 4.3 million foreign residents live in many of the cities dotted across France.
If you’ve decided that you’re ready to make the move to France but are unsure of where to call base, there are all kinds of considerations to take into account, such as the cost of living, the crime rate, and the climate. To help you on your journey, here are ten of the best French cities to consider calling your new home.
The Top Cities to Live in France
While Paris may be the first city that springs to mind when we talk about France, there are a whole host of other cities dotted across the country that expats flock to and call home, such as those listed below:
Understandably, Paris is one of the most sought-after cities to live in, not only in France, but across the world. With a population of 2.1 million, many expats decide to start a new life in the French capital. If you’re a lover of the great outdoors and being in touch with nature, you’ll be happy to know that Paris is home to over 421 gardens and municipal parks, meaning there is always something new to see. The architecture in Paris is sure to catch your eye too, thanks to famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower.
In regard to getting around, Paris has a well-oiled public transport machine, meaning you can catch the metro or bus to get around the city with ease. You must remember that as Paris is the capital, you should expect accommodation costs to be higher when compared to other cities. Paris is also considered a safe destination for locals, students, tourists, and expats, with violent crime being relatively uncommon.
Toulouse is the fourth biggest city in France and is most known for its gorgeous Mediterranean climate, meaning you can expect pleasant weather all year round. Situated in the southwest of France, Toulouse is considered one of the best cities to live in for both locals and expats. If you’re after a unique blend of modern metropolitan facilities and traditional French culture, you’ve come to the right place.
There is a wide range of tasty cuisine, cultural activities, and landmarks to check out across Toulouse, so if you’re moving for work purposes or looking for a retirement destination, Toulouse has it all and more. When it comes to getting to and from Toulouse, the city has its own airport, meaning you can go back and forth to see family in the UK with ease.
Nice has a population of over 500,000, many of which are expats. The city is most known for its carnival that takes place across the scenic Promenade des Anglais, as well as its fresh food, gorgeous beaches, and Roman roots. If you’re a Brit who appreciates the French lifestyle and everything that goes with it, Nice may be the perfect city for you to live in.
If you’ve been on holiday to Nice in the past, you will know only too well how great the weather is, as well as the abundance of outdoor activities you can take part in. What’s more, there are many child-friendly attractions to check out, making Nice the perfect city to live in as a family. If you’re worried about crime, Nice isn’t any more dangerous than any other city across France. In fact, many people regard Nice as one of the safest.
Marseille is one of the top cities to live in France thanks to its free business environment. Also, thanks to the city’s urban renewal programme, there are tons of jobs that have been created in the construction industry. Marseille is home to an array of Mediterranean beaches and is engulfed in rich history that you’re sure to be impressed with.
In terms of quality of life, Marseille offers affordable housing and is home to people from all walks of life. Whether you enjoy going for a stroll by the beach, soaking up the history, or tucking into tasty food, Marseille boasts a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes that are sure-fire favourites with the locals, tourists, and expats.
Strasbourg is home to European institutions like the Council of Europe and the EU Parliament, meaning there is a thriving expat community to be found in the city. Strasbourg combines French and German culture, making it an exciting hotspot to both live in and work in. When comparing living costs to other cities like Paris, Strasbourg is cheaper, meaning you will get more for your money.
If you’ve decided that Strasbourg is going to be your new home, there is so much to see, do and fall in love with, such as the city’s old town, tasty Alsatian cuisine, not to forget the foodie fest. Strasbourg is a lively city that houses tons of museums, events, operas, and festivals that see people from all four corners of the planet descending on the city.
If you’re after a city where the accommodation is less than 1/3rd of what it would cost to live in Paris, look no further than Nantes. Known for its extensive public transport network, you can get across the city and country with ease. For those who decide to live and work in Nantes, you can expect a great quality of life and immerse yourself in the city’s strong cultural and historical heritage.
For those who love all things history and want a city that’s vibrant and full of fun, Nantes may be the perfect destination for you to move to. Nantes is located in the northwest of France and is often classed as one of the safest cities in the whole country.
Montpellier is situated in the south of France and only 10km away from the coast of the glorious Mediterranean Sea. When it comes to living in Montpellier, there is a wide range of cultural activities to try out, and the city is home to a huge number of cinema and music festivals, meaning no matter what genre tickles your fancy, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you.
Montpellier is also experiencing a booming economic growth, not to forget serving up some of the tastiest food and wine known to man. There are international connections too, as well as a welcoming expat community that you can join. The locals of Montpellier are known to be friendly and welcoming and many of them speak English, meaning you can converse and get advice on where to go in the city.
There are numerous reasons why you should consider starting a new life in Lyon. The city is close to the sea and mountains, meaning you can go for a stroll by the waves or go on a hike, as well as its glorious rivers and green spaces. Lyon is also home to a city park that enables you to get out in the fresh outdoors. For those who aren’t a big fan of the beating sun, Lyon is known for its mild climate, which means you can explore everything the city has to offer without feeling too uncomfortable.
Lyon is home to over 50,000 expats too, so you can be confident there will always be someone around who can guide you on getting the most out of living in the city. All in all, Lyon is known for its fantastic quality of life, even from the moment you step foot into the city.
Lille is a city that promotes big companies, and thanks to its fantastic geographical placing in the world, the city is the capital of retail and commerce. If you’ve been to the city before on a break, you will know how strong and welcoming their culture is, not to forget its tasty cuisine and glorious wine.
If you have a young family, Lille is the ideal city for the whole family, as every age group is well catered for. Lille is best known for its vibrant markets and huge flea market that takes place once a year. The city is also known for its affordable housing, so whether you choose to move into an apartment or house, you are sure to get good value for money.
Bordeaux has so much to offer to expats, making it one of the best cities in France to live in. The expat community have integrated beautifully with the locals, so you can expect a multicultural welcoming atmosphere.
While Bordeaux is considered a fairly safe place to live, you should adopt common sense when going about your business. Like with anywhere in the world, there are shady characters that you need to be aware of. On the most part, however, Bordeaux is a great place to live and boasts stunning architecture and attractions for all age ranges.
Whether you’re moving for business purposes or somewhere to retire to live out your golden years, many cities in France are perfect for the working professional or retiree. Before deciding on a city and making the big move, make sure you speak to expats already living in France who can give you an honest insight into what life is like living in another country and which cities will cater best to your needs.