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Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in France for Everyone - From Retirees to Families

Dreaming of living in France? You're not alone. From the romantic streets of Paris to the sunny shores of the French Riviera, France is full of places that feel like they're straight out of a postcard. But with so many amazing spots, it can be tough to pick the perfect place to call home.

Tobi Miles
April 4, 2024
Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in France for Everyone - From Retirees to Families

Whether you're after the hustle and bustle of city life, the calm of the countryside, or the charm of coastal towns, France has got you covered. Let's dive into some of the best places to live in this beautiful country, where the food's fantastic, the views are stunning, and life feels just a bit more magical.

Key Takeaways

  • France offers a diverse range of living environments, catering to retirees, families, young adults, and professionals, with each area boasting its unique lifestyle, job opportunities, and community vibes.
  • The Dordogne region is ideal for retirees seeking a slow-paced lifestyle amidst picturesque landscapes, while Lyon stands out as a vibrant city for young adults, offering a robust job market and gastronomic delights.
  • Families looking for a balanced urban-nature lifestyle should consider moving to Nantes, praised for its high-quality education, green spaces, and family-friendly community.
  • Nice, situated along the French Riviera, provides sunny weather nearly year-round, making it perfect for beach lovers and individuals seeking a laid-back yet glamorous lifestyle.
  • Bordeaux attracts with its temperate climate, flourishing wine industry, and welcoming community, offering an appealing environment for retirees, professionals, and families alike.
  • Despite their differences, all highlighted areas provide access to high-quality healthcare, rich cultural experiences, and a variety of outdoor activities, making France a top choice for relocating.


When you're thinking about moving to France, the options can feel endless. Each place has its unique charm, lifestyle, and weather. To make your decision a bit easier, we've broken down the best places to live based on what you might be looking for - whether you're retiring, starting your career, raising a family, or just searching for happiness in a new setting.

For Retirees: The Dordogne

  • Pace of Life: Slow and relaxed
  • Activities: Wine tasting, historical tours, and riverside picnics
  • Community: Welcoming with a sizeable expat presence

If you're dreaming of a quiet countryside retreat, the Dordogne is perfect. With its stunning landscapes and quintessential French villages, it's a slice of heaven for those looking to enjoy their golden years in peace.

For Young Adults: Lyon

  • Job Market: Robust, especially in tech and gastronomy
  • Nightlife: Vibrant with countless bars and clubs
  • Cost of Living: More affordable than Paris

Lyon is a city that's full of life and opportunities, making it ideal for young adults kicking off their careers or pursuing higher education. It's also the food capital of France, so get ready to indulge.

For Families: Nantes

  • Education: High-quality public and international schools
  • Green Spaces: Numerous parks and gardens
  • Community: Family-friendly with plenty of activities for kids

Nantes offers a balanced urban and nature lifestyle, perfect for growing families. The city is known for its safety, cleanliness, and the ease of navigating through its charming streets.

For Lovers of Sunny Weather: Nice

  • Weather: Warm summers and mild winters
  • Beaches: Some of the best in France
  • Vibe: Laid-back but glamorous

The French Riviera, with Nice at its heart, is where you'll find sunshine nearly year-round. It's perfect for those who love the seaside and want to bask in the luxury of this world-renowned coast.

  • Scenery: Breathtaking mountains and beaches
  • Lifestyle: Close-knit communities with a fierce sense of identity
  • Activities: Hiking, sailing, and exploring untouched nature


If you're on the lookout for the ideal place to call home in France, Lyon deserves a top spot on your list, especially if you're a young adult kick-starting your career or a foodie with a penchant for vibrant city life.

For Young Adults and Professionals

  • Robust Job Market: Lyon stands out for its dynamic job market. It's a hub for industries like banking, pharmaceuticals, and software development. If you're fresh out of college or looking to climb the career ladder, this city has got your back.
  • Networking Opportunities: With numerous startups and international companies, you're never short on opportunities to mingle, network, and advance your career. Plus, it's home to EMLYON, one of Europe's top business schools, making it a great place for continuous learning and professional growth.
  • Lively Social Scene: After work, the city transforms. Between the bustling bars in Vieux Lyon and the music venues in Confluence, you'll find your calendar quickly fills up. Also, don't miss the famous Nuits Sonores, an electronic music festival that draws crowds from across the globe.

For Foodies

  • Gastronomic Heaven: Lyon is often hailed as the gastronomy capital of the world. You can indulge in the traditional bouchons, serving up Lyonnaise specialties, or explore Michelin-starred restaurants for a more upscale dining experience.
  • Fresh Markets: Fancy cooking? Lyon's markets, like the Marché de la Croix-Rousse, offer fresh, local produce daily. It's perfect for experimenting with French recipes in your kitchen.

For Those Seeking Culture and Activities

  • Rich History and Culture: Dive into the Renaissance-era old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, or explore the Roman ruins in Fourvière. The city's museums, like the Musée des Confluences, tell fascinating stories of Lyon’s past and future.
  • Outdoor Adventures: If you're an outdoor enthusiast, you're in luck. The Parc de la Tête d'Or offers boating, botanical gardens, and a zoo. For a weekend getaway, the Alps and Beaujolais wine country are just a short drive away.
  • Cost of Living: Sure, Lyon isn't the cheapest city in France, but compared to Paris, it's a steal. You'll find that rent, groceries


Moving over to the sun-kissed shores of the French Riviera, let's talk about Nice. If you're in love with picturesque beaches, vibrant markets, and a dash of Italian influence in your French lifestyle, then Nice might just be your spot.

For Retirees

  • Weather and Comfort: Nice boasts an incredible Mediterranean climate, meaning your days will be filled with sunshine and mild winters. It's perfect for those looking to escape harsher climates.
  • Healthcare: France's healthcare system is one of the best, and Nice is no exception. There are plenty of high-quality healthcare facilities.
  • Accessibility: The city is well-connected by public transport, making it easy to explore without a car.

For Young Adults and Professionals

  • Job Market: Nice is not just about tourism. The tech scene is growing, with opportunities in startups and established companies.
  • Social Scene: With its beaches, bars, and cultural events, Nice is never dull. You'll find yourself immersed in festivities like the Carnaval de Nice.
  • Cost of Living: While not the cheapest, sharing an apartment can make living here more manageable.

For Families

  • Education: International schools offer quality education for your kids.
  • Outdoor Activities: From beach days to exploring Parc de la Colline du Château, there's always something to do.
  • Community: The expat community is welcoming, making it easier to settle in.

For Those Seeking the Best Weather

  • Sunny Days: Expect over 300 sunny days a year. It doesn't get much better than that.
  • Mild Winters: Snow is rare, and temperatures are comfortable year-round.

For Those Wanting to Avoid Crowds

  • Off-Season Perks: Visit between October and April. The weather's still great, and you'll avoid the tourist rush.
  • Hidden Gems: Explore neighborhoods like Cimiez or the quaint streets of Le Panier for a quieter vibe.

For Festival Lovers

  • Carnaval de Nice: One of the largest carnivals in the world, it's a spectacle of floats and celebrations.
  • Jazz Festival: Nice hosts one of the most prestigious jazz festivals every summer.
  • Beaches: The pebbly shores might take some getting used to, but the crystal-clear waters more than make up for it


For the Wine Enthusiasts and History Buffs

Heading over to the southwest of France, you'll find Bordeaux, a city that marries the elegance of the old with the excitement of the new, making it a prime spot for almost anyone looking to call France home. Here’s why it might just tick all your boxes, whether you're retiring, kickstarting your career, raising a family, or just looking for the next adventure.


  • Weather and Wellness: Bordeaux boasts a temperate climate, perfect for those of you looking to escape extreme weather. The scenic beauty and leisurely pace of life contribute to a stress-free environment, crucial for your golden years.
  • Healthcare: Access to top-notch healthcare services ensures you're always in good hands.

Young Adults & Professionals

  • Job Market: With its booming wine industry and a growing digital sector, Bordeaux offers ample employment opportunities, especially if you're into tech or vino.
  • Social Scene: The city's vibrant nightlife, cafes, and cultural festivals provide a fantastic social scene for young adults to thrive in.


  • Education: Families will find a selection of quality international schools here, easing the transition for English-speaking kids.
  • Activities: From exploring lush vineyards to bike rides along the Garonne, there’s no shortage of family-friendly activities in and around Bordeaux.

Gender Inclusive

  • Welcoming Community: Bordeaux is known for its inclusive and welcoming atmosphere, making it a comfortable place for anyone, regardless of gender identity, to settle down.

Best Weather

Looking for sun without the scorch? Bordeaux's mild climate means warm summers and cool winters, balanced out with just the right amount of sunshine. Perfect for those who favor comfort over extreme weather.

Avoiding Crowds

  • Off-Season Charm: Visiting or living outside the summer rush lets you enjoy the city’s charm without the hustle and bustle, especially in the quaint streets of the Old Town.


  • Wine Festivals: Naturally, the wine festivals here are a big draw. Events like the Bordeaux Wine Festival offer the perfect chance to mingle, taste, and celebrate the region’s famous produce.
  • Cultural Events: The city's cultural calendar is packed with film festivals, art shows, and concerts throughout the year, ensuring there's always something happening.


Choosing the right place to call home is a big decision and Bordeaux's unique blend of offerings makes it stand out in France. Whether you're starting a new chapter in life, looking to advance your career, or seeking a vibrant community for your family, Bordeaux has something special for you. Its combination of climate, culture, and community is hard to beat. So why not consider making this charming city your new home? After all, it's not just about finding a place to live, but discovering where you can truly belong.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Bordeaux considered a versatile city for living?

Bordeaux is highlighted as a versatile city due to its appeal to retirees, young adults, professionals, families, and those seeking inclusive communities. It combines a temperate climate, economic opportunities, vibrant social scenes, quality education, and top-notch healthcare, making it an ideal choice for many.

What makes Bordeaux attractive to retirees?

Retirees find Bordeaux appealing for its temperate climate, scenic beauty, and accessibility to top-notch healthcare facilities. These factors contribute to a comfortable and healthy lifestyle for those in their retirement years.

How can young adults and professionals benefit from living in Bordeaux?

Young adults and professionals in Bordeaux can take advantage of the job opportunities in the wine and digital sectors. Additionally, the city's vibrant social scene offers ample networking and socializing options.

What are the advantages of raising a family in Bordeaux?

Families in Bordeaux benefit from a variety of quality education options and family-friendly activities. The city’s inclusive atmosphere and safety make it an ideal place for children to grow and learn.

How does Bordeaux accommodate individuals of all gender identities?

Bordeaux's inclusive atmosphere makes it a welcoming city for individuals of all gender identities. The city fosters a sense of belonging and acceptance among its residents, contributing to its appeal as a living location.

What adds to Bordeaux’s appeal as a desirable living location in France?

The city’s mild climate, off-season charm, and a diverse range of festivals, including wine festivals and cultural events, significantly enhance Bordeaux's appeal. These aspects make it not just a place to live but a vibrant community to be part of.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
April 4, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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