Many people are fascinated by France and find it difficult to pinpoint the reason. With a population similar to England, France has much more land. There is a sense of space and, apart from some towns, less of a feeling of congestion and busyness.
There is also a slower pace of life in most of the countryside as it is a predominantly agricultural country, and daily life moves with the seasons. There is a routine to following the seasons, which calms people because it gives them time to enjoy their environment.
France is beautiful, with a wide variety of scenery and food styles for each region. Variations include the rich, beef-based foods of Burgundy to the olive oil-based dishes of the Mediterranean.
This, alongside the lower property prices than the UK, makes France a desirable proposition.
Food Is Hugely Important In France
The French are convinced that their food is the best in the world and have successfully exported this idea. Traditionally, they have fairly tight meal times and manage (usually) to avoid snacking between meals. Lunch tends to be 12-2pm, a snack or goûter for children around 4.30pm and dinner after 7pm.
Whatever is acceptable, and eating foods not in season is frowned upon. This means a year-round expectation of the supermarkets being full of the same things always doesn’t happen. Many people grow some vegetables and shop in the local markets for locally grown produce. The result is flavoursome food.
The other important aspect of French food is its presentation; delicacy and elegance are valued. No meal is considered complete without a glass of wine; even a carafe of house wine is usually pleasurable.
The country has a long, sometimes turbulent history, making for an exciting sense of place and time. Nor have the beautiful old buildings been demolished for modern sixties cement structures, as in so much of England. There are numerous chateaux dotted around the landscape, which indicate the power of local nobles at times or their holiday pleasures, such as the chateaux of the Loire. Often, the buildings in a small town or village give glimpses of the financial success of a landowner in the past.
A characteristic of the French is their politeness. Greetings, even between friends and family, are formal. There is either a handshake or, more usually, a kiss on the cheek. How many depends on the region. This politeness smooths the way for easy camaraderie.
France is different. A narrow channel divides it from England, but the cultural differences are huge, and the French way of life seems more comfortable for many. So let’s take a look at some of the best cities you can live:
Toulouse, often called the “Pink City” due to its terracotta buildings, is a great place to live, with a rich history and modern charm. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Toulouse combines the old-world charm of its city centre with the dynamic energy of a modern metropolis. Known for its aerospace industry and as a hub for technology, Toulouse offers job opportunities, excellent schools, and a pleasant Mediterranean climate.
The French capital, Paris, needs no introduction. Famous for the Eiffel Tower, its historic architecture, and a lot of art galleries. Paris is known as the city of love, city of light and a great place to live. Despite being a bustling metropolis, Paris offers neighbourhoods with a more relaxed atmosphere, providing a mix of city life and cultural richness. The city centre, with its iconic landmarks and charming old towns, attracts tourists and those seeking an ideal location to immerse themselves in French culture.
Known as the wine world’s capital, Bordeaux is an excellent city for wine enthusiasts and an ideal place to live. With low crime rates, good schools, and a burgeoning job market, Bordeaux is a popular destination for French locals and expatriates. The city’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the beautiful countryside adds to its appeal, offering a high quality of life in a city that balances tradition and modernity.
La Rochelle, nestled along the Atlantic coast of France, is often regarded as a beautiful place for expats to call home. Its undeniable charm and high quality of life make it an attractive destination. The city boasts a rich history, well-preserved medieval architecture and a picturesque harbour. Expats living in La Rochelle can enjoy a laid-back lifestyle characterised by its mild climate, beautiful beaches, and vibrant cultural scene. The city offers a wide range of amenities, including excellent healthcare facilities, top-notch schools, and various recreational activities. La Rochelle’s strong sense of community and welcoming atmosphere make it an ideal place for expats to settle and immerse themselves in French culture.
Lyon, a city renowned for its culinary delights, stands out as a perfect place to live for food enthusiasts. The city of Lyon is the third-largest in France and has a rich history, world-class museums, and a vibrant city centre. The cost of living is reasonable, and the city offers a mix of big-city amenities and the charm of smaller villages. The proximity to the French Alps and the Swiss border provides opportunities for outdoor activities, making Lyon an ideal location for those seeking cultural and recreational experiences.
Situated in the south of France, Montpellier is a vibrant city known for its young population, thanks to the presence of a major university. The Mediterranean climate, easy access to the Mediterranean coast, and a lively atmosphere make Montpellier an ideal place for students, young professionals, and families. The city’s historic centre, with its old town charm, complements the modern amenities and international schools, making it an attractive destination for both locals and expats.
Perpignan, located near the Spanish border, offers a unique blend of French and Catalan cultures. With its Mediterranean climate, affordable cost of living, and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, Perpignan is considered one of the cheapest places to live in France. The city’s lively atmosphere, local markets, and delicious cuisine make it an ideal place for those looking to start a new life in southern France.
Nantes, situated on the Atlantic coast, is a city that combines historical charm with modern innovation. As France’s sixth-largest city, Nantes balances big-city amenities and the tranquillity of smaller villages. With a strong focus on sustainability, numerous green spaces, and a thriving digital nomad community, Nantes has become a preferred destination for those seeking a high quality of life and a dynamic urban environment.
Nice, the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department, is another gem on the French Riviera. With warm summers and its sandy beaches, world-class museums, and a diverse population, Nice is a great city for those seeking a cosmopolitan lifestyle with a Mediterranean touch. The city’s international airport, excellent public transportation, and proximity to the French and Italian Rivieras make it an ideal location for those who love to explore and travel.
For those looking for the countryside rather than a city, Dordogne is a good choice. The Dordogne in the nouvelle-aquitaine region is a picturesque destination that appeals to expats seeking an idyllic place to live. With its charming villages, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, the Dordogne offers a high quality of life that is hard to match. The slower pace of life and the friendly and welcoming locals make it an ideal place for expats to integrate and feel at home. The abundance of fresh produce, world-class cuisine, and renowned vineyards further enhance the appeal of the Dordogne as a desirable place to live. Whether exploring historic castles, indulging in delectable gastronomy, or simply immersing oneself in the beauty of the surrounding nature, the Dordogne has something for everyone. For expats seeking a peaceful and enriching lifestyle in France, the Dordogne is undoubtedly an excellent place to call home.