Choosing the best location to live in France

Choosing the best location to live in France goes beyond being close to the Eiffel Tower or gazing out at the Mediterranean every morning. There are a lot of factors to consider, like climate; the pros and cons of rural and urban locations; the most popular spots for expats, locals and tourists; how you’ll get around; plus the cost of living.
You don’t need to know your exact preferences for each and every part of these considerations, but exploring these topics will help you narrow down your property choices and figure out what’s most important to you. From there, a specialist property buyer’s agent can give you additional detailed information on the towns, types of property and locales you’re most interested in.

The Climate
There are a lot of varied climates in France, and weather is an important consideration whether you’ll be living in your new home full-time or just as a getaway. For example, Paris experiences all four seasons, while the French Riviera is mild and warm all year round. In the alps, you’re bound to see chillier days, which is why the ski season is so long. Here are a few more things to know about the climate in France:

  • The weather in northwest France is comparable to that of southern England, which is termed “oceanic.”
  • This means that winters are cool and summers are warm, and there’s precipitation year-round (more so in the winter).
  • As you head south and move inland, summers become hotter and winters become colder (like in Paris).
  • When you reach Occitanie (formerly Languedoc) and Provence, you’re close to the sea and you’ll experience a Mediterranean climate, the warmest in the country. However, these areas also have microclimates to familiarise yourself with. For example, Provence is warm most of the year, but it also experiences cold winds that come down from the mountains.
  • To the east is the French Riviera, which is warm and sunny practically every day of the year.
  • To the west, the areas by the French Pyrenees are beautiful, but they get a lot of rain in the autumn and winter.

Holidays in an area with heavy snowfall or high temperatures may sound idyllic, but think about what it’ll be like to live there all the time. Will you miss the change of seasons? Will it be difficult to find a job if you work outside? Would it be better to live in an area with a more hospitable temperature and then travel a few times a year to enjoy something different?

Rural vs. Urban Locations
There are perks and drawbacks to living in rural and urban locations. Living in a rural setting means you’ll have lots of privacy and quiet, but it may take you a long time to reach the town centre to go shopping and access other amenities. Urban areas have plenty of shops and services nearby, but you may have to live in an apartment instead of a house and deal with heavy traffic or tourism.

  • France’s inland areas are less popular with buyers, which means you can get a better value when purchasing property.
  • The Dordogne area is especially popular with buyers from England, so you’ll be able to find a strong expat community there.
  • Provence is also popular amongst expats, but it’s not as accessible as other parts of France, so frequent travel will be challenging.
  • Paris attracts people from all over the world, both to live and visit. While you’ll be close to some of
  • France’s best attractions, you’ll also have to contend with tourists. Living in the outskirts of Paris, though, means being amongst a lot of locals and having a better variety of property types (you won’t be limited to apartments, like in the heart of the city).

Unless you’re leaning heavily to one side or the other, the best option may be to live somewhere that has a balance. Look for a home that’s close to a city or major town without being in its hub. You’ll steer clear of heavy tourism while still being close to transportation, events and shops.