5 Best Cities to Live in France (and why live there)

France is a popular place for expats, both young and old. This is where modern living meets old world culture, all in one beautiful country. Thanks to the size of France, new residents are able to find the type of climate and way of living that suits them best.

Pick and choose which amenities and activities you want access to. Visit cultural sites and take in remarkable scenery. Dine out and sip wine al fresco. Read a book on the beach. Take a weekend to go skiing.

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The following cities also have a strong expat community.

Aix-en-Provence

The capital of boasts a Mediterranean climate, keeping it sunny and mild all year long. Locals are known for being educated and intellectual, capable of stimulating conversation. Outdoor lovers can tour vineyards or hit a round at the Pont Royal international golf course.

The city’s natural beauty is complemented by old stone cottages, fountains and churches. Foodies will love the abundant cafes, restaurants, wineries and olive oil tastings. There’s also a strong art scene, plenty of boutiques and a large student community, due to the area’s universities.

You don’t need a car in Aix-en-Provence, since there’s a public bike system, car-sharing services, buses and trains to take advantage of. Eurostar train service makes it easy to take a quick holiday trip to London.

Bordeaux

Dubbed “Little Paris” because of its classic beauty and architecture, this port town is home to approximately 239,000 people. Located on the Gironde river in southwest France’s Aquitaine region, Bordeaux was considered France’s wealthiest and most glamorous city for centuries. By the end of the 20th century, though, it had developed a reputation for being conservative and somewhat dull. With the turn of the millennium came a new, fresh outlook. Revitalized largely in part to a new tramway system, new energy was breathed into the city.

Today, has a number of restaurants, cafes, walkways, gardens and art installations. Mild most of the year, the city can get rainy during the winter. There’s no dry season, which is why the area produces such fantastic wines.

For families who are relocating, this area has some of the best schools in France. Like Aix-en-Provence, Bordeaux also has a lot of universities and a strong student population. The Aquitaine area is popular among young professionals.

Marseille

Located on the southeast coast, Marseille is the second largest city in France and home to a wide variety of nationalities with the climate producing hot summers and mild winters.

The area has several bars, museums, shops and restaurants. Enjoy the walk up the hill to the basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde to light a candle at the city’s spiritual centre. Don’t miss the view from the church, either. When you have a free afternoon, walk along the Corniche du President JF Kennedy on the coast, which has the perfect combination of sunshine and sea air. Visit the labyrinth-like neighbourhood of Malmousque, which has breathtaking views of the coast.

Nice

The fifth largest city in France, Nice is located on the southeast coast, between Cannes and Monaco. There’s a large Italian influence in the area, as well as a huge tourist influx, which offers expats plenty of job opportunities. The beauty of has inspired artists for centuries. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the four-mile Promenade des Anglais that runs along the beach, as well as mountain climbing and windsurfing.

While Nice is understated, it’s still a hub of culture, including gorgeous architecture and the greatest concentration of museums outside of Paris. This cosmopolitan area has plenty of shopping and nightlife, but it can also be a place of leisure, depending on the lifestyle you prefer. Or, if you don’t want to choose, you can have the best of both worlds.

Paris

Paris is made up of 20 neighbourhoods, called arrondissements. Aside from each one having its own number, they also have unique and defined characteristics, like views of the Eiffel Tower, rich nightlife and Art Nouveau buildings. Most Paris residents live in apartments, which range from the new and spacious to the classic and romantic.

The City of Light comes complete with fantastic cuisine; world-class music, theatre, dance and art; and a superb quality of life. Living in Paris is akin to living in a museum. View the tower where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned, then head to the same cafes where Hemingway and Picasso once frequented. Chance upon complementary concerts and performances, and spend an afternoon lolling in a public park.

Since public transportation is widely available in Paris, there’s no need for a car. The city revels in four seasons, which is ideal if you love changing weather every few months.

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